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Christmas crooning

By Judy Hamilton

WANT TO GO?

Classic Christmas Crooners Tour, featuring the former lead vocalists from The Temptations, The Platters and The Drifters:

  • 7 p.m. Friday at the Madison Civic Center, 261 Washington Ave. Tickets: $10, $25 or $50.
  • 7 p.m. Saturday at Wyoming East High School, 260 Warrior Way, New Richmond. Tickets: $30 and $50.
  • 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Summersville Arena and Conference Center, 3 Armory Way. Tickets: $25, $30 and $50.
  • 7 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Paramount Arts Center, 1300 Winchester Ave., Ashland, Ky. Tickets: $25, $30 and $35.
  • 8 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center, 126 Main St., Pikeville, Ky. Tickets: $18 and $23.
  • 6 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28 at Tamarack, off Exit 45 on  I-77/64, Beckley. Tickets: $35 and $50.

Book and CD signings

  • 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Budget Records & Tapes, 3708 MacCorkle Ave. S.E.
  • 2 to 3 p.m. Friday at Danville Little General, 30 Ramsey Road.
  • 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at Chapmanville Little General Store, 100 Airport Road
  • 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at Tamarack.
  • 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 20 at Adams Hallmark in the Huntington Mall

Visit www.landaumurphyjr.com to purchase concert tickets or for more information.

_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Still trying to find your holiday spirit and the perfect gifts? You can do both at the same time and also help the Children's Home Society of West Virginia, a non-profit child welfare organization that benefits foster children and encourages their adoption.

"America's Got Talent" 2011 winner and West Virginia native Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. recently released a new CD, "Christmas Made For Two," and his autobiography, "From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star." The album, his first Christmas record, has a special limited edition release benefiting the Children's Home Society of West Virginia, which Murphy has supported for the past decade.

"I was not nervous when I sang on 'America's Got Talent' because I had performed so many times to benefit the Children's Home Society," he said.

To further help everyone get their jolly on, Murphy will perform several concerts in the area in the next two weeks on his Classic Christmas Crooners Tour. He will perform with the former lead vocalists of The Temptations, The Platters and The Drifters.

The jet-setting yet down-to-earth Murphy also just returned from a concert in New York City on Dec. 2 and four concerts in Shanghai, China on Dec. 6 and 7. In November, he was in the studio in Los Angeles, working on his next album, which has two new original songs he co-wrote with arrangers Bill Meyers and Dapo Torimiro.

Murphy is hoping to see West Virginia families with multiple generations represented at his upcoming concerts. He says that his shows are fun and "totally G-rated."

 "I want West Virginians to come to my shows and see me in person, not just on TV," he said. "Our shows are a whole lot of fun. I want everyone to come out with their kids and grandkids.

"We need to keep our kids here in West Virginia. It's truly God's country, and I'm never leaving West Virginia. Come shake my hand, give me a hug and show me some of that West Virginia love.

"This album is the best way for me to pay homage to my state and the people I love," he noted. "I feel blessed every day.

"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.hamilton@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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