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“A talent too big for one stage”

A talent too big for one stage

Portsmouth Daily Times | Frank Lewis |

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., is the epitome of the American Dream. Murphy washed cars in Logan, West Virginia — a city where he would sing for anyone who would listen, enabling him to raise money for local children’s charities. One day he was robbed of everything he owned including all of his clothes, except for what he had on. Then, almost overnight, he was thrust into the spotlight as the winner of “America’s Got Talent” and an instant millionaire.

Tuesday night, the Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association outdid itself by allowing the people of the Portsmouth area to witness the endless talents of Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., at the Vern Riffe Center For the Arts.

I remember turning to Joyce and saying, “Frank Sinatra would have loved him.” Murphy is the only man I know who can actually perform the Sinatra songbook and draw a standing ovation. In a column a couple of years ago I wrote about a national Sinatra competition. I wrote about how none of the contestants were in the Sinatra realm because they were all high-register singers using their throats so there was no substance. In the same column I said there was only one man in America who had the same timber to his voice and that was Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. His rich baritone, occasionally accented by the Sinatra-like growl, played well to the nearly packed house at VRCFA. Let this be a lesson to aspiring vocalists – sing from your diaphragm.

On the same show were three of the most talented people ever to appear on one stage – Glen Leonard, Joe Coleman and Joe Blunt – lead singers with the Temptations, the Platters and the Drifters. What may have amazed you if you were in the audience was that their music didn’t only bring we, shall we say, mature people to our feet to dance, but there were 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds and 16-year-olds up on their feet dancing as well. Then, as an added treat, at one point Landau joined the three on some Motown. It was magical.

When Murphy completed his first CD I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It had all my Sinatra favorites including “That’s Life.” I have played it over and over. Then, I got the opportunity to see Murphy in person and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

The band was great and sounded twice as big as it actually was. Portsmouth should be proud of Mark Smith who kept the band swingin’ and rockin’ for nearly two hours. They could play a classic Sinatra song one minute and the mound of Motown sound the next due in no small part to Smith’s direction.

My wife and I will cherish the evening we spent standing, applauding, and occasionally dancing to the great sounds of the Landau Orchestra. But most of all, our lives were enriched by the humility of this dapper, suave West Virginia native with the most infectious smile in America and his message to young people everywhere – “follow your dream. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something.”

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.


To read this article online, visit The Portsmouth Daily Times



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