VIENNA - The 2011 "America's Got Talent" winner enticed a couple hundred people to the Adams Hallmark store in Grand Central Mall Thursday afternoon for a meet and greet event.
"I am very happy to be in the Parkersburg area and have a chance to spend time with some of my fans," said Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. "I love getting to meet and talk to my fans - it's my favorite part of my job, to get to spend time with the people who make my life possible.
"Being able to spend time with and talk to my fans in stores is the ultimate; doing things like this is the best part of what I do," he added.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., the 2011 winner of “America’s Got Talent,” smiles as he signs an autograph for Jewel Lusk of Parkersburg on Thursday afternoon in the Adams Hallmark in Grand Central Mall.
The crowd of about 200 people started at the entrance to Adams Hallmark and wrapped around the store to stretch down the hallway between the Hallmark and Kitchen Collection stores.
"This is a much larger crowd than we anticipated in the middle of the work day," said Charlotte Adams, owner of the Hallmark franchise.
Adams said that while the crowd was about double the size the store planned for, she was not surprised at the turnout.
"Landau is very popular throughout the state," Adams said. "He has a very loyal fan base in West Virginia and such a great story as to how he came to be where no matter where he goes throughout the state, a crowd will be ready."
One of those fans was Parkersburg resident Jewel Lusk, who stood as first in line to have five copies of Murphy's latest album of holiday season favorite songs, aptly titled "Christmas Made For Two."
"I let my work know I would be late and came here to have him sign a CD for each of my kids for Christmas gifts," Lusk said. "I have been a fan of Landau's from the moment he started on 'America's Got Talent' and I wasn't going to miss this for anything."
The crowd was so large for Thursday's meet and greet and autograph-signing event the store ran out of items for the singer to inscribe. Although the store had started the day with a surplus of copies of Murphy's autobiography and the holiday CD, before Murphy's event had ended the store had run out of both and more had been brought to the store from the Adams Hallmark store in Charleston Town Center.
For each CD purchased, $1 will be donated to the Children's Home Society.
"I want to stay true to my roots by giving back," Murphy said. "A lot of kids in West Virginia need a great start in life and by giving just a little bit, I hope to help a lot of kids have a good Christmas."
Murphy will begin touring to promote this Christmas album, beginning tonight in Jackson County at the National Guard Armory in Millwood.
On Saturday, Murphy will also perform at the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame 2013 induction ceremony to honor the fifth class of inductees, which includes Melvin and Ray Goins, Peter Marshall, Wayne Moss, Tim O'Brien, Ada "Bricktop" Smith, Eleanor Steber and The Swan Silvertones.
During the program, Murphy will be presented with the 2013 Spirit Award.
"Since I won 'America's Got Talent,' life has been busy and bigger than I ever expected this career could be," Murphy said. "I never thought my singing career could grow as big as it is and I love every second of it."
Murphy was born in Logan where his grandfather, the late Rev. Cecil Murphy, cultivated his talents. His family moved to Detroit when he was 10-years-old and he returned to Logan in 1999. He became a car washer in Chapmanville to support his family, but continued to pursue his dream of becoming an entertainer.
On a bet in 2003 with his girlfriend, Jennifer Carter, who he married in 2005, he won a talent show that led to numerous engagements.