Landau Murphy Jr. to perform in fundraiser for Hospice of Huntington in November
HUNTINGTON -- Two years before he became known as the talented crooner who won "America's Got Talent," Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. was sitting at the bedside of his dying uncle, thinking about ways he could help the organization that was taking care of his relative.
At that time, he decided he wanted to do a concert for his uncle, Lonnie Murphy, and the others spending their last days at Hubbard Hospice House in Charleston. He told his uncle what he wanted to do and got information from the facility to perform, but never got the chance. His uncle died the next day.
Now, national fame and a $1 million prize later, Murphy again has the opportunity to perform for Hospice, this time as Hospice of Huntington celebrates 30 years of service in the community.
"They took care of him in a wonderful way," Murphy said, of his uncle's care. "I really wanted to go perform for all the patients with the band I had at the time, and wanted to give them a free concert. That's why I'm doing the show at the Keith-Albee for Hospice."
Since 1982, Hospice of Huntington has been a place of closure and comfort for more than 15,000 people in the community that are nearing the end of life.
To celebrate those 30 years, Hospice of Huntington is putting on an anniversary concert Nov. 1 at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Tickets go on sale Aug. 1, through TicketMaster. Tickets are $30, $60 or $100, and additional service fees will apply. All proceeds will benefit Hospice of Huntington.
"The concert is entertainment people can enjoy that can also celebrate the history of the organization in a way that inspires people to want to come out and not only show support for Hospice of Huntington, but have really, really good time," said Shelly Betz, the director of development and communications at Hospice of Huntington.
November is National Hospice Month, so the show will be used as a celebration of the 30th anniversary and a way to kick off the month. Murphy will be performing the music from the Rat Pack-era that helped him win the popular national show, as well as classic Motown tunes.
"The genre of music that he is singing is so endearing to many people and is multi-generational," Betz said. "To hear someone sing and sound so much like the singers from the Rat Pack era has broad appeal."
One of the community members that plans to buy tickets is Chris Miller, the owner of Dutch Miller Kia. Miller said he plans to buy a party booth and get several friends to buy tickets.
"This is not a social obligation, but an opportunity to help out others in need in our area," Miller said. "It's a great cause and a fun night. If we all did something nice for our area, it would go a long way."
As the anniversary approached, Betz said Hospice looked at several different things to do in celebration, including speakers and a gala. But a concert trumped the other ideas.
"Several of us kept coming back to Landau," she said. "There's something special about him. He's a West Virginia native that is making headlines all across the country."
Laura Darby, who started Hospice of Huntington in 1982 as a class project while she was a senior nursing student at Marshall, said it is a miracle that the organization has been able to thrive for 30 years. She credits President and CEO Charlene Farrell with taking a small group of volunteers and dreaming big.
Having Murphy perform as concert is a fitting nod back to the organization, Darby said.
"He has a talent that was hidden and came to a forefront," Darby said. "From such humble beginnings, great things have come about. There is a correlation there to Hospice."
Murphy, who just played a Temptations show in Detroit, is heading back to West Virginia to perform at the West Virginia State Fair. For those who can't wait until Nov. 1 to see him, he will be performing Aug. 12 in Lewisburg.
The tickets for the State Fair show have a special promotion. To help replenish food banks that were hit hard after the June 30 derecho, fans can buy one ticket and get a free ticket by donating five or more nonperishable food items. The promotion runs through the day of the show.
Murphy, who at one point was homeless, said he feels the need to help others when they are in a rough patch of life.
"Now that I'm in a position to help people, I need to do it," Murphy said. "It's part of my heart and the upbringing from my parents. We've got to help others."