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Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.’s Very Good Year

The America’s Got Talent victor dials down the Sinatra influence

Landau Eugene Murphy

For all their hype and ratings-grabbing popularity, primetime talent-search shows have launched embarrassingly few solid music careers. Though American Idol and America’s Got Talent have to date delivered a combined 16 victors, most of them have been reduced to showbiz footnotes. But Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., the lanky, gap-toothed West Virginian who nabbed the AGT million-dollar prize last September, seems set to buck the famous-for-15-minutes trend. The 37-year-old father of four is already the first jazz-oriented winner, and the only one whose triumph was shaped by the Great American Songbook.

Murphy’s youthful passion for standards, particularly the songs of Frank Sinatra, began with the TV sitcom Married With Children, which used Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage” as its theme. Though his pals would tease him about his unusual taste in music, he refused to be deterred. “When I was on the basketball court,” he says, “and I’d dunk on somebody, I’d sing ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ Or when I was moving in close, I’d sing ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin.’ Whenever I sang, people would say, ‘You sound like that Frank guy.'”

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