"In the experience of writing the book, I wanted people to feel the whole ride. I wanted people to feel hope, keep going and never give up. I want my children and grandchildren to live their dreams.
"Everything has been amazing," he said. "God has been so good. I want to pay it forward."
Speaking of paying it forward, Murphy explained why he gives a portion of the proceeds from every album to the Children's Home Society: "It is a charity I've been doing since way before 'America's Got Talent.' I support what they are doing because I was homeless. I grew up in a single-parent family home. I know what it's like to miss Christmas and miss a meal. I thank God for having the opportunity to give back."
"Love is something that should be given 365 days a year," Murphy said. "Love is every day, not just on Christmas day."
Prior to winning "America's Got Talent," where 14 million weekly viewers voted him into the top spot by the biggest margin in show's history, Murphy sang for free several times at fundraisers for the charity, including the WE CAN (Working to Eliminate Child Abuse & Neglect) Vaudeville Show, which raises money for foster kids to go to summer camp, said Robert Noone, a close friend of Murphy and a Logan lawyer who advocates for abused and neglected children.
In addition to CHS, Murphy supports several other nonprofit groups in the state.
At his Berkeley Springs concert on Dec. 11, food donations were collected for the Morgan County Backpacks Project. At the Madison and Summersville concerts, fans are encouraged to bring a toy for the Friends and Family for Coal Christmas Toy Drive (which earns them a discounted $10 admission). At the Wyoming County concert, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the West Virginia Council on Aging.
"Christmas Made For Two" is a festive mix of holiday favorites and some songs Murphy is hoping will become Christmas classics. It was recorded in West Virginia with producer/engineer Ritch Collins and audio mastering by Jeff Bosley.
"I selected the songs from my childhood, and I tried to select music that would put people in the Christmas spirit. This was my gift."
Charleston music lovers will quickly note the sounds of jazz piano great Bob Thompson, guitarist Ryan Kennedy, bassist John Ingram, saxophonist Doug Payne and drummer Tim Courts on two tracks. The talented Thompson arranged "Quiet Christmas" and the title track.
"Bob Thompson has been a great mentor to me. We're having fun with it on the album," Murphy said.
On "Silent Night," he has a heartfelt duet with Glenn Leonard, former lead vocalist for The Temptations. "I'm a huge Temptations fan, so what a blessing to be able to share the studio with Glenn, and learn from him about how the Temptations made their Christmas album so timeless," said Murphy.
"I think God gave me a natural gift for performing and singing. I'm glad that God blessed me with being able to bring this type of music back to everyone. Singing with one of the Temptations is one of my dreams. Now I'm living it.
"God has blessed me and my family."Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.hamil...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.