America’s Got Talent 2011 Winner, Landau
America’s Got Talent (NBC) 2011 winner, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., visited Chicago last month for the first time.
The recent winner was a guest on “The Experience” where owner and creator, Dedry Jones, interviewed him in front of the audience. The event took place at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
Since winning in September, Landaue has been doing what he calls, “walking on faith, not by sight.” It’s hard for him to imagine that not too long ago he was just washing cars in Logan West Virginia. His life has drastically changed because now he travels across the country with his $1 million prize and an amazing record deal.
The West Virginia native had been washing cars off and on for the past twelve years, a job that he enjoyed.
“I liked washing cars because it gave me the freedom to put on some headphones and make my day go by. I could sing songs while I was working with no boss standing over my shoulder,” he said.
After his audition in New York, the judges found it hard to believe that he had never auditioned before. “People continued clapping for like fifteen minutes afterwards,” he said.
Landaue grew up dancing and singing to Motown records in family members’ living rooms. “It just started trying to be Michael Jackson in the living room with my brothers and sisters singing that Thriller album, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye,” he said.
He’s a 36 year-old African American singing Sinatra and Dean Martin, which isn’t typical. Just like the AGT judge Howie Mandel said after Landaue’s audition, “I have to say you were such a surprise. Your look, versus the music that you were doing, I did not expect that.”
This type of reaction is nothing new for the former car washer. “They all say the same thing, like I can’t believe this guy, look at him, I can’t believe he’s singing like this.”
“We’re not all supposed to be in that box and I’m definitely the one that never wanted to be in the box,” he said.
Even though he sings Sinatra perfectly, don’t be fooled. The performer is well diverse in his music, which he proved when rapping along to Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” (1987). He demonstrated his knowledge in hip hop and rap by identifying every song that Jones played, while singing with it.
Landau shared with the audience that besides Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Michael Jackson, he loves Tupac and Common also.
His new album, which came out November 21st, is called That’s Life and he chose the genre he did because he considers the music “timeless.” He said, “The whole genre I picked is timeless, it doesn’t degrade women, it doesn’t brag to your brothers and sisters about how much money and flash you have,” he said.
“A lot of people are getting so caught up in technology that we’re not recognizing grandma anymore or grandpa or we’re not recognizing the people that are out here actually picking up instruments and learning them.”
Despite his new busy schedule, he still finds time to give back, something he has also done. He does charity with the We Can Program, which sends less fortunate kids to summer camp and the Children’s Home Society, which helps abused children get adopted into safe and loving homes.
Landau’s life has radically changed, but this is something he has always wanted. “I’ve always wanted to be here and to be here has just been amazing. It has been a tremendous blessing for me and my family and even closest friends”