Landau to be inducted into WV All Black Schools Sports and Academics Hall of Fame
Educating guests populate Landau Murphy’s big band
BY: Judy E. Hamilton, Staff writer
He chose West Virginia.Not only did he choose to stay in West Virginia, Murphy decided to hire as many local musicians for his band as possible. A remarkable number of them are music educators in the state.“Oh, at least a dozen of the band members have ties to music education,” said Burke Allen, of Allen Media Strategies in Washington, D.C., Murphy’s manager, and another native of Logan.
Murphy’s All Star Orchestra includes professors at Marshall University, the University of Charleston, Morehead State University, Ohio University and teachers at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School and Logan High School.
“Everywhere we’ve gone, all over the world, Landau has been a great ambassador for West Virginia,” Burke said. “Some people have a bad opinion of West Virginia, others have no opinion of West Virginia before they meet Landau, and it’s good for them to see the positive that Landau puts out.
“We sort of got the cream of the crop of musicians for his band, and he’s learned so much from them.”
Murphy agrees that he has an amazing band and says that he is on a mission to promote music as being good for the mind and the soul.
“I think music moves the world, and if we move it in the positive direction through music and education, we can make the world a better place,” Murphy said during an evening rehearsal for his June 18 concert at the Clay Center, which benefited and celebrated HospiceCare’s 35th anniversary.
The rehearsal was busy and energetic as the group rehearsed with Murphy’s special guests — the former lead vocalists from The Temptations (Glenn Leonard), The Platters (Joe Coleman) and The Drifters (Joe Blunt) — and previewed songs from his upcoming third album, slated for release later this year.
The camaraderie with his band members was obvious as they bantered playfully during the practice session. Brandon Willard joked that he has known Murphy so long that he knew him before he had dreadlocks.
Willard, a Shinnston native and West Virginia University graduate, is director of bands at UC, director of Kanawha County Schools’ Magnet School of Music and lead teacher and music specialist for the Kanawha County Board of Education, primarily at Mary C. Snow Elementary School. Prior to that, he served as band director at Logan High School.
When asked how he manages his teaching jobs with playing in Murphy’s band, Willard responded, “Very carefully,” with a broad smile.
“I have great leadership at my school and at the board office. It’s a great opportunity for me to play in Landau’s band. Landau has come to my school to talk to the students. He’s very active and does a lot with students and he wants to do even more. It’s tough to juggle the jobs, but my job is a lot of fun. I love teaching the younger students and being able to let them experience what I do as a musician.
“I tell my students, you’ve got to follow your dream and be prepared to work hard. I tell them to do something that they love and they will do it better if they love it. I also tell them, never be afraid to dance,” Willard said.
Martin Saunders is the director of jazz studies and professor of trumpet at Marshall University in addition to being Murphy’s lead trumpeter. He has three degrees in music, including a doctor of musical arts from the University of Oklahoma.
“A lot of what I do with teaching is, I’m teaching them how to be in a real-life musician situation and I try to practice what I preach. Being in the band, this is my fun. This is my release,” Saunders said of his life as an active jazz performer in addition to being a teacher.
He has performed with other highly regarded entertainers such as the Cab Calloway Orchestra, The Temptations and Frank Sinatra Jr.
Marty Ojeda plays tenor saxophone and flute in Murphy’s band. When he’s not touring with Murphy, he is the band director at Logan High School.
Prior to joining Murphy, he spent eight years as a touring musician in Nashville, playing with artists such as Rascal Flatts, Brenda Lee, T. Graham Brown, The Bellamy Brothers, The Temptations, Bobby Vinton, Gladys Knight and opening for music stars Merle Haggard, Lonestar and Alan Jackson.
“I had been a road and studio musician for many years, and I found out about the job at Logan High School, my alma mater, and decided, since I had a child, it was time. Landau and I had heard each other play and we both said, ‘Hey, let’s play together. We both know Bob Noone,’” Ojeda said, referring to a Logan lawyer who works closely with the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, a group Murphy supports.
Ojeda said managing teaching and being in Murphy’s band is a challenge he enjoys.
“You pick and choose and juggle, and the main thing is my students. I try to do as much as I can to teach my students by example. I tell them and show them, if you obligate to something, you have to fulfill that obligation,” he said.
“As musicians, our first priority is our day job, so to speak, and the band is very understanding of this,” Ojeda said.
Mark Smith is the leader of Murphy’s big band and plays keyboards in it. He also teaches piano and voice, and directs theater at Marshall University.
When asked how he juggles all his jobs, he replied, “Thankfully it’s summer break.”
He also got backup singing jobs for two of his students at Marshall: Mycah Pemberton and Jen Billups.
“We needed strong backing vocals to add to what we were doing here, and I happened to know two really good people. This is their seventh show and, like the rest of the band, they work hard,” Smith said.
His advice to students and musicians wanting to work in the music industry is simple: “You’ve got to start by doing show after show. Take any gig you can get, and don’t turn down the job because the pay is low. You’ve got to pay your dues,” Smith said.
The band also includes Greg Wing, a professor of music and trumpet at Morehead State University, and Matt James, a professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Ohio U.
Wing has collaborated with Sinatra Sr., Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Anka and Buddy Rich’s Big Band.
James has played with The Phil Collins Big Band, Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.
“It’s a small world regarding the musicians in the band and their connections to Landau, who we all admire,” said Willard, who was once in the Daddy Rabbit Band with Murphy’s close friend Noone.
These ties have led to a close-knit group of musicians who share Murphy’s dedication to making the world a better place, particularly for children and often through charity events.
Earlier this month, Landau donated $5,000 to the charity.
Murphy’s second album, “Christmas Made for Two,” had a special limited-edition release benefiting the Children’s Home Society, a cause he has supported for the past decade.
In April, Murphy performed a concert to benefit the Spring Mills Student Choir in Martinsburg.
During his December concerts, he collected food donations for the Morgan County Backpacks Project, toys for the Friends and Family for Coal Christmas Toy Drive, and donated proceeds of a concert to the West Virginia Council on Aging.
Earlier this year, Murphy was named to the 2014 Ten Outstanding Young Americans program by the U.S. Jaycees. He was to be honored at a black-tie awards ceremony last night in Baltimore. For 76 years, the organization has recognized 10 young men and women under the age of 40 who best exemplify the finest attributes of America’s youthful achievers. Previous honorees include John F. Kennedy (1946), Robert Kennedy (1954), Chuck Yeager (1954), Jay Rockefeller (1969), Elvis Presley (1970) and Bill Clinton (1979).
“Every opportunity that Landau gets to shine a positive light on West Virginia, he does it. This award just took his breath away, and he is very honored,” Burke said.
Reach Judy E. Hamilton at email@example.com or 304-348-1230.
To view this article online, visit: www.WVGazette.com
Landau Murphy Jr. Appearing on West Virginia Squares
Hosted by the original “Hollywood Squares” host and native West Virginian, Peter Marshall. Be there or be square!
Show times 7 & 8:30 p.m., June 23-24 at the Clay Center
Special late “Hillbilly Squares” show 10 p.m., Tuesday
As part of FestivALL 2014, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is producing four segments of a game show we’re calling “West Virginia Squares.” Based on the popular “Hollywood Squares” game show, “WV Squares” will take place June 23-24 at the Clay Center’s Maier Foundation Performance Hall, and feature questions about WV music and WV history.
Admission is free!
The shows will be MC’d and co-produced by Peter Marshall, the original host of “Hollywood Squares” – and a proud WV native. The four “WV Squares” shows – two on June 23 and two on June 24 – will be filmed.
“I’m excited to be coming back to West Virginia and turning ‘Hollywood Squares’ into ‘WV Squares,’” said Marshall. “I love coming home – and we’re going to have a lot of fun. I hope you will join us!”
The celebrity squares will feature notable WV natives including: Wheeling native Joyce DeWitt (Janet Wood on the TV show “Three’s Company”); 2008 WVMHoF inductees Charlie McCoy and Billy Edd Wheeler; “America’s Got Talent” winner Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.; Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris; Miss West Virginia Charisse Hailsop; Donnie Davisson (Davisson Brothers), “Chasing Nashville” star Autumn Blair; Five-time winner of the WV Liars Contest Bil Lepp; Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, “Mountain Stage” host Larry Groce; and radio personality Steve Bishop.
Contestants will include winners of the 2014 West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Award.
Each show will include a warm-up with songs performed by Peter Marshall, Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., Charlie McCoy, Larry Groce, Michael Cerveris, and BobThompson.
Following the two “WV Squares” tapings on Tuesday, June 24, the WVMHoF will host a ribald segment called “Hillbilly Squares.” The 10 p.m. show – which is not recommended for children – will be hosted by Pierre LaCock (Peter Marshall’s given name).
“It’s something Peter has done many times before,” said WVMHoF director Michael Lipton. “We thought it would be fun – and a great opportunity for the celebrities turn their senses of humor loose. Peter comes from a vaudeville background so It will be an old-school ‘blue’ show with some good-natured off-color humor.”
“Hollywood Squares” first aired in 1966 and ran almost uninterrupted through 2004.
Peter Marshall, who has roots in Clarksburg, Wheeling and Huntington, hosted more than 5,000 episodes of “Hollywood Squares” between 1966 and 1981 and won five Emmy Awards. In 2013, TV Guide ranked “Hollywood Squares” No. 7 in its list of the “60 Greatest Game Shows of All Time.” Marshall also co-hosted the 2011 West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony and was inducted in 2013.
For information, call 304/342-4412 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Junior Chamber Names Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. 2014 Ten Outstanding Young Americans
What do Bill Clinton, Elvis Presley, Wayne Newton and General Chuck Yeager have in common? They are all past recipients of the United States Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Americans award. For over 75 years, the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) has recognized the ten young men and women – under the age of 40 – who best exemplify the highest attributes of the nation’s emerging generation. The U.S. Jaycees is pleased to name West Virginia’s own Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. to the 2014 Ten Outstanding Young Americans who will be honored at the 76th annual black-tie awards ceremony – to be held June 28, 2014, at the BWI Airport Marriott Hotel in Baltimore, MD.
“Since the beginning of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) program, the US Jaycees have recognized young men and women who are truly dedicated to the world around them. Each class of winners represents the best of the best in a variety of categories, but they are all bound by one common belief – that service to humanity is the best work of life,” said Fay Poissant, President of the US Jaycees. “ I have no doubt that the 2014 TOYA recipients will continue to create positive change through their selflessness and willingness to create sustainable solutions in their communities, much like the Jaycees have been doing for nearly 100 years.”
To learn more about the 2014 Ten Outstanding Young American honorees, the program, or the 76th Annual Banquet and Ceremony event, please visit www.jayceemember.com/toya.
About Ten Outstanding Young Americans Program
The Ten Outstanding Young Americans program (TOYA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious recognition programs in America. Annually since 1938, The United States Jaycees has sought out the ten young men and women (under the age of 40) who best exemplify the finest attributes of America’s youthful achievers. Previous honorees include Bill Clinton (1979), John F. Kennedy (1946), Dick Cheney (1976), Kurt Warner (2010), Wayne Newton (1977), Gale Sayers (1969), Elvis Presley (1970) and Michele Tafoya (2001).
About the Jaycees
Leadership development through community involvement has been the basis of the Jaycees since its inception in 1920. The goal of the not-for-profit organization is to provide members a means to reach their full potential through networking and personal growth opportunities, and is ideal for proactive young people ages 18 to 40. Members enhance a variety of leadership, management and communication skills as they work together to plan and run civic and individual development activities that affect positive change in their home communities and throughout the world. To learn more about the Jaycees visit www.usjaycees.org.
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. thrilled fans of NBC television’s hit series America’s Got Talent as the dreadlocked crooner that won America’s hearts, walking away with the largest number of winning votes in the history of the series. Landau’s classic crooning and smooth style has spread well beyond AGT audiences worldwide. From headlining Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater and all points in between, Landau has performed all across the country and internationally, having toured China with fellow AGT winner Michael Grimm and performed for U.S. troops stationed in Europe.
Landau’s first Columbia Records album, “That’s Life,” produced by Grammy winner Steve Tyrell, debuted at #1 on the Billboard jazz charts in 2011. He released his follow-up holiday album “Christmas Made for Two” in 2013, featuring Christmas classics, new sounds of the season, and a special guest cameo from Glenn Leonard, former lead singer of the Temptations, on their soulful duet of “Silent Night.” Landau’s autobiography published by Headline Books titled “Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. – From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star” spent several weeks in the top spot of Amazon’s Jazz Books chart late last year.
Landau’s third album, recorded at the famed Capitol Records Studio “B” in Hollywood, is slated for release later this year. The new project will feature Landau’s soulful, original spin on Great American Songbook standards, a handful of R&B flavored classics, and two new original songs co-written by Landau and multi-platinum producer/songwriters Dapo Torimiro (John Legend, Jordin Sparks, Brandy, David Archuleta, Justin Bieber), and Bill Meyers (Madonna, Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Four Tops). Grammy winner Jeffrey Weber produced the new Landau CD.
Landau has appeared on dozens of major network and cable TV and radio shows, received the Reality Television Personality of the Year award, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and performed in both the nationally televised Macy’s Christmas Parade and Hollywood Christmas Parade. Landau has received his home state’s two highest honors, named “West Virginian of the Year” by the Charleston Gazette newspaper and “Distinguished West Virginian” by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
This Sunday, June 29th, Landau will be performing the National Anthem and God Bless America for the home crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The park is hosting a 1954 Orioles Cap Giveaway for the first 20,000 fans, as well as a Kids Run The Bases event post game. The Orioles will take on the Tampa Bay Rays, game time is 1:35 PM ET.
BUY YOUR TICKETS TODAY at www.baltimore.orioles.mlb.com!
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