Forty-one-year-old, Carolina-born musician Rob Paper seemed to come to Boise out of nowhere. But for the past two decades, he had made a living making music--he was even sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe--and, for the last few years, he had been living in the Virgin Islands. Then last year, he received word that he needed to come to Boise to care for his almost 7-year-old son, Taj, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires around-the-clock care. The move, coupled with the hardship of caring for a sick child, left Paper and his son nearly destitute and living at the Boise Rescue Mission.
But Paper's dire straits didn't dampen his desire to do the one thing that he knew he could do well: play guitar and sing. So he entered last year's Boise's Got Talent competition held at Donnie Mac's.
In his soft Southern accent, Paper explained that he didn't join the music competition to make a splash on the local scene ... he really just needed the prize money.
"Someone told me that [Boise's Got Talent] had a $500 prize," Paper said, chuckling.
On the night when the handful of finalists would be decided, Paper was on the roster of performers, but missed his time slot. The audience, gathered on the Donnie Mac's patio, was informed that Paper's son had been rushed to the hospital, but as soon as his son was out of immediate danger, Paper would be there. And he was. He borrowed a guitar and, as the last performer of the night, he filled the night air with his emotive strumming, sweet voice and a sound that mixes his Southern upbringing, his time in the islands, his love of jazz and his inherent understanding of what a good pop/rock song should be.
Paper's charisma, determination and talent ultimately earned him the title of winner of the Boise's Got Talent competition, netting him the prize money and some recording time at Audiolab with Steve Fulton. He now has a regular gig at Reef on Mondays.
"I had given up my music career to come here and take care of Taj full time, and it has been really, really nice to jump back into this," Paper said.
On Friday, April 9, Paper will play the Linen Building in a benefit to help him raise money to offset some of Taj's medical bills, as well as celebrate Taj's seventh birthday. Paper will be joined by local musicians Dan Costello, Travis McDaniel, Jamie Vink, Lexi Neal and Aaron Atkins (who refers to this reporter as Aunt Amy). The show is all ages, starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $7.