Murphy wants to use stardom to help others
LOGAN, W.Va. -- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. said his life's low points made him who he is today.
That's why he doesn't view his hardships as a negative. He said he believes everything happens for a reason.
As he celebrates the release of his new Christmas album and the kickoff of his Christmas tour, Murphy remembers where he came from and said he hopes he can continue to help people through his singing career.
"I was homeless," Murphy said. "I was at a point where I didn't know where my next meal was going to come from and I didn't think anyone cared."
Music always has been an important part of Murphy's life. Murphy recalled his life before winning America's Got Talent, remembering when he used to sing to pass the time working as a car washer. He also remembered when his band fell apart and he was unsure of what was going to happen next.
"What do I do with my music? And right at that moment, God spoke to me in plain English and said, 'All you need is a bigger stage. Now, go find it.' I questioned that. Where's that bigger stage? And right at that moment, Howie Mandel comes on my mother-in-law's TV screen asking, 'Are you the next winner of America's Got Talent?' I said that's the show."
And the rest is history.
Since his win, Murphy has been busy creating new albums and writing his book.
Recently, Murphy celebrated the release of his Christmas album, "Christmas Made for Two." The album is something that has been on the backburner for the last few years, but Murphy said he wanted to make sure it was just right before sending it out to his fans.
"I tried to get in the studio last year and the year before to make this Christmas CD," Murphy said. "But every time we got there, we just weren't in the Christmas spirit. You know, my big band was playing and I was like, 'This isn't swinging. This doesn't feel like Christmas.' I wanted to give them something they could be proud of."
Murphy said once he felt the music take him back to his own childhood Christmas memories, he knew it was right.
For his next album, he's trying something new. Murphy said he recently got back from LA, where he was working on a CD that explores several genres. He also tells fans to be on the lookout for a gospel album.
"There are two originals I put on there myself," he said, referring to his mix-genre CD. "I'm proud of that."
His Christmas tour also has kept him busy. The first stop was in Ripley where the West Virginia Kids Choir sang beside him.
Among his next stops, Murphy will visit several West Virginia towns and he also will be a host on Sirius XM.
What is he most excited about on this tour?
"That a West Virginian took me to China. That's amazing," Murphy said.
That's right; Murphy is scheduled this Friday to perform in Shanghai.
"I have two concerts at the Mercedes Benz Arena. It's ironic that the guy who runs the arena is from Morgantown," he said.
Earlier this month, Murphy also celebrated a book he co-authored with Rick Robinson. In his book, called "America's Got Talent Winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr: From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star," people can read about his journey.
"It's memoirs about my rise to success as far as the hard times in dealing with my self esteem issues," Murphy said. "I've never seen myself as a pretty boy. I've always been scared of the entertainment world ... It kept me away from my dreams. Basically, my book is telling kids, young adults or older people to not just give up on yourself. Sometimes, you just have to go for it."
Murphy said he is blessed to be where he is today and he hopes his success and a commitment to charity will help people through their hardships.
"Being at rock bottom and seeing what it's like, that never left me," he said. "Feeling like no one cares all the way to the point where you don't want to exist no more. That was the hardest thing for me. I feel that God puts you through things he knows you can handle. He put me in situations to see what it's like to be at rock bottom and I'll never forget. That's why I am the way I am."
And he hopes people will continue to think about others all year, not just the holidays.
"It should be a constant thing," he said. "You shouldn't just do it because it's the season. You shouldn't just do it because it's a publicity stunt. Every concert should be someone less fortunate benefiting from it ... People are buying tickets; they're paying money for me to entertain them. Still someone who can't get that ticket or can't even get a meal. How can you feel good even making all that money when someone else is hungry or lonely?"
Murphy says he has a charity focus as he has worked with organizations including Children's Home Society, Toys for Tots and Walking Miracles. Murphy said there are things he still wants to put in motion but he said it's important for him to keep this focus.
"I just want to make a lot of money and make a lot of people happy with it," he said. "If I can't do that, I just don't want to do it. I love singing and performing but that's just who I am. I want to change the music to the way it used to be. If you change music, you change people."