The 76th Mountain State Forest Festival is pleased to announce the 2011 "America's Got Talent" winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. will headline opening festival weekend.
The show will take place on the campus of Davis & Elkins College in Harper-McNeeley Auditorium at 8 p.m. Sept. 29. Tickets for this show are on sale via the festival website at www.forestfestival.com. Tickets also can be purchased by calling 304-636-1824.
D&E College will charge $5 per vehicle for those who choose to park on the college campus.
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
Murphy's concert event is sponsored by West Virginia Lottery and WBOY.
On a cold November day in 2010, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., of Logan, and his wife, Jennifer, stood for hours outside of the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. They were among the thousands of people lined up to audition for NBC's "America's Got Talent." It would take several more hours for Murphy to finally get inside and sing a few bars, and then he sang for one producer after another. Soon, he was the last one sitting in a huge rehearsal hall.
Not only did his unique singing style make him stand out from all of his competition, Murphy's humility, charm and confidence endeared him to the TV show's judges and viewers.
If you go
What:?Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. concert
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 29
Where: Harper-McNeeley Auditorium
"I had nothing to lose. I walked out there, and when I saw the judges, I felt a little star-struck," Murphy recalled. "But singing in front of that big audience was something I've always wanted. I felt right at home."
After receiving standing ovations from judges Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and Howie Mandel, a singing duet with the iconic Patti LaBelle, and a rousing rendition of "My Way," Murphy was named the winner of the show's sixth season.
Syco/Columbia Records has since released Murphy's first album, "That's Life."
Many have compared his smooth vocals and phrasing to that of Frank Sinatra, a singer he always admired. All of the tracks from "That's Life" are Sinatra standards, but Murphy did them his own way.
"I put my own voice and my own soul into this album," he said, adding that he decided to honor Sinatra as a salute to the fans who voted for him. "For a lot of my fans, especially older people, I can bring back some happy memories. And hopefully I can create new memories for generations to come."
His sudden rise to fame has been in keeping with Murphy's roller-coaster ride of a life. At one point as a young man, he was forced to sleep in his car; he worked at a car wash during the months leading up to his TV performances; and was down to his last pair of pants and jacket when he arrived to sing at Radio City Music Hall.
"We didn't discuss this during the show because we didn't want people feeling sorry for us," he said. "But my wife and I had been away taking care of her mother, who had just been hospitalized, and someone broke into our house and cleaned us out. They robbed us blind. And we were so heartbroken. Thank goodness we were able to move in with my mother-in-law. We had no place else to go."
After they got over the initial shock of their situation, Murphy said he began to take stock of what they had left, physically and emotionally.
"I remember lying on the bed, looking at the ceiling. Jennifer was so down. I was talking to God and I hear him say, 'You need to get on a bigger stage and hold your head up.' That's when I knew I had to try out for 'America's Got Talent.'"
Despite having gone from rags to riches, he said, "I'm still happiest when I'm home and when I'm with my family. I like it when there is no stress and I'm doing what I want to do - which is to sing."
Tickets for Murphy's concert during the Forest Festival will be $35 each, and more information is available online at www.forestfestival.com.