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Paramount Arts Center show — article from the Herald-Dispatch

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., and members of the Temptations, Platters and Drifters to bring Christmas Crooner show to Paramount

Dec. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

DEREK HALSEY

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.’s story is an amazing one. A native of Logan County, W.Va, he went from working at a car wash to trying out for, and winning, the “America’s Got Talent” TV show.

Since that achievement a couple of years ago, when Murphy brought to life the American songbook by singing standards made famous by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others, life has been a whirlwind. But, with fame and success comes both good times and bad vibes and Murphy has experienced them all.

Murphy will be headlining the Classic Christmas Crooners Tour this Friday evening, Dec. 20 at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland. Joining Murphy will be former lead vocalist for The Temptations, Glenn Leonard, former lead vocalist for The Platters, Joe Coleman, and former lead singer for The Drifters, Joe Blunt. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $35. All four singers will be backed by a 20-piece orchestra.

Murphy is touring behind his new album “Christmas Made For Two,” which was recorded here in the Tri-State.

As Murphy begins the interview, it is literally hours after returning from China on a long plane flight. He was brought over to the city of Shanghai earlier this month to perform at a venue that is surprisingly managed by a fellow West Virginian.

“A West Virginia native named Michael Enoch from Morgantown runs the Mercedes Benz Arena over in Shanghai,” said Murphy. “He invited me over there to do a big fundraising event for Heart To Heart Shanghai, which is a program that helps kids pay for their heart surgery. I think we raised about $100,000, which is more than enough over there to pay for heart surgery. We probably raised enough money to help 12 to 14 of them. From a West Virginian to a West Virginian, he reached out to me and last year’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner Michael Grimm and we headlined the show. But, what they also did was they let the kids put some bands together and we had a battle of the bands. Michael and I were the guest judges, just like on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and there was a huge audience. Then, the winner got to open up for us when we did the finale show. We got to take pictures with the kids and it was fantastic. I loved it over there.”

Since coming from humble beginnings and then winning a nationally-televised talent contest that drew more than 12 million viewers a week, Murphy has discovered that there are many sides to success.

“I’ve learned about the sacrifices you make when you become famous, as far as losing family and friends,” said Murphy. “You have a lot of people out there who are not happy about your success. But, I think that the ones who are happy for me outweighs all of that. I’m just dealing with it. I’m a people person, and I have been doing this (singing) all of my life so I kind of take it in stride. Sometimes they just don’t get it. Then, when you try and explain it to them, it makes them hate you even more because they feel like you are trying to act like you are better than them. But, you are just trying to help them see what you saw (in yourself). I just blink and try to move on.”

Along the way, Murphy has had some important talks with acclaimed artists who have given him some good advice. A couple of years ago, Murphy was a part of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony and while there he met the great singer Bill Withers, who was a Hall of Fame inductee that night.

“My goodness, you talk about somebody funny, I can’t even tell you,” said Murphy, about meeting Withers. “I sat right next to him and he had all of these fantastic stories. I’m kind of falling into his footsteps because he never wanted the fame either. Bill Withers just wanted to make music. He never tried to be a pretty boy or none of that. (Bluegrass artist) Johnny Staats was there and he is the same way. He still works for UPS. His feet never left the ground. He always stayed humble and kept his job. He is a true West Virginian, man. He never really wanted the fame, he just likes jamming and playing music. That is the same way with Bill Withers. To spend that whole day with them was amazing. Bill was telling me about the business and all of the people I was going to lose. He explained to me how to deal with a lot of things.”

Murphy’s new “Christmas Made For Two” album was recorded here in Huntington and produced and engineered by Mountain Stage’s Ritch Collins and mastered by Jeff Bosley.

“I wanted to capture that Christmas spirit and that emotion that you felt when we were kids, when you heard Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’ and you knew that Santa Claus was coming,” said Murphy. “That is what I wanted this album to feel like, so I feel like I captured all of that. The players on the album convey that nice Christmas swing all through it and it sounds real classic. Half of the proceeds go to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, which is a program that helps abused children get into a better home. It’s doing really well, and I am steady paying it forward and giving back as much as I can.”

Here’s a closer look at the Christmas tour, CD and new book from Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.

LANDAU LIVE: The sounds of the season continue with the Classic Christmas Crooners Tour. Featured are Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., 2011 winner of “America’s Got Talent” on NBC TV; Glenn Leonard, former lead vocalist from The Temptations; Joe Coleman, former lead vocalist with The Platters; and Joe Blunt, former lead singer with the Drifters.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20

WHERE: Ashland’s Paramount Arts Center

HOW MUCH: Tickets: $25, $30, $35

GET TICKETS: Call 606-324-3175 or go online atwww.paramountartscenter.com

ABOUT LANDAU: Since winning “America’s Got Talent” on NBC Television in 2011, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. has notched a number No. 1 selling debut album, and headlined a sold out world tour that has included stops in China, American military bases in Germany, and coast-tocoast venues across the USA. His debut CD “That’s Life” debuted at No. 1.

THE NEW CD: “Christmas Made for Two” was recorded in Huntington at Denny Chandler’s studio, Murphy’s new Christmas CD was produced and engineered by Ritch Collins from NPR’s Mountain Stage with audio mastering by Jeff Bosley.

GET THE CD: Copies of “Christmas Made for Two” are available at the website store: www.shoplandau.bigcartel.com and on Amazon.com atwww.tinyurl.com/cmftamazonand at all West Virginia-area Little General Stores, Inc.

A portion of each CD sold will benefit the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, which Landau has supported for the past decade. Guest musicians include jazz great Bob Thompson, Greg Wing (Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Buddy Rich) on trumpet and Emmy winner Jay Flippin (Wilson Pickett).

HIS BOOK: Landau’s first book “Landau-From Washing Cars to Hollywood Stars” ($19.99, Headline Books) was released in November and features the behind-the-scenes story and previously unpublished photos of Landau’s rise to the top.

STILL GOT TALENT: This fall he toured China as part of a co-headlining tour also featuring fellow AGT winner Michael Grimm.

UPCOMING AREA PERFORMANCES AND APPEARANCES: Tuesday, Nov. 17, CD/book signing at Little General Store #4030 in Chapmanville, W.Va. Thursday, Dec. 19, Summersville Arena and Conference Center and CD /booksigning at Tamarack in Beckley. Friday, Dec. 20, CD/book signing – Adams Hallmark at Huntington Mall; Saturday, Dec. 21, performance at Eastern Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Ky., and Dec. 27-28, Tamarack in Beckley, performance.


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