GILBERT — Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. came “Home for the Holidays” on Friday.
When Murphy showed up to audition for NBC TV’s America’s Got Talent in 2010, he was singing to pass the time while making a living washing cars in Logan, WV (population 3,000) and the only “nice” clothes he owned were the ones on his back: a pair of jeans, a modest button down striped shirt and jacket.
Fortunately for Murphy, you don’t need a slick wardrobe to win America’s heart but instead need talent and personality, and Landau had a great deal of both. Wowing the judges with his back story of homelessness and determination to succeed for his family, coupled with interpretations of classics from Cole Porter, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and others, Landau walked away with the million dollar grand prize in front of 14 million weekly viewers. According to show insiders, when all was said and done, Landau had won America’s Got Talent by the biggest vote total in the show’s history.
Since winning American’s Got Talent, Murphy has had over 100 sold out concerts across three continents, from Caesar’s Palace to the Apollo Theater and all points in between. The singer’s debut album hit the top of the Billboard charts and he has raised more than a million dollars for children’s and homelessness charities via his holiday CD and personal appearances.
Aside from America’s Got Talent, Murphy is also known for his love of Christmas. Christmas is a favorite time of year for Landau, who goes all out with his annual holiday tour. Murphy often has local choirs and symphony orchestras join him on stage in their towns. He does toy drives for area children at most venues as well as guest hosts a show on the Sirius/XM “Holly” channel. And he often invites other artists he admires to be a part of the show while crisscrossing the country including former Temptation Glenn Leonard, former Platters vocalist Joe Coleman, and former Drifters singer Joe Blunt, who Murphy refers to as “living legends.”
Murphy’s Home for the Holiday’s tour began on December 2 in Annapolis, MD but on Friday, he performed at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center.
“My home state is hurting now, with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, so we’re hoping to bring a little Christmas cheer and help them forget about their troubles, at least for a little while,” said Murphy who was once himself homeless, living in his car before going on to win NBC’s America’s Got Talent , a one million dollar prize, secure a Columbia Records recording contract, and releasing a #1 best selling book
Glenn Leonard, former lead singer for the Temptations and Cody Wickline, known for his time spent on the national television show, The Voice both joined Murphy at the Harless Center as well as the Mingo Central Choir.
All guests who brought a non perishable food item attended and enjoyed a meet and greet with each artist. All donated food items went to The Store House, the local food pantry in Gilbert.
By the end of the night, there was almost a truck bed full of food arriving at The Store House. Pastor Clifford Rawl says that The Store House appreciates it very much.
” I am very proud of our community and what they gave,” said Rawls.
The Store House feeds approximately 300 families every month in or near the Gilbert area. The pantry supplies families once a month with USDA provided food or if families do not qualify for USDA food, food is taken from a separate supply and given to the family.
“No one leaves here without a box of food,” said Rawls. “Whether it is USDA food or Store House provided food, we can help you.”
The show will begin at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are available online at www.landaumurphyjr.com , at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center or the Logan County Chamber of Commerce.
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Gilbert Times. Madalin can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 304-664-8225.