A winner of the “America’s Got Talent” national television show will be featured performer at a benefit concert in the auditorium of the Saugerties High School on Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. The $25-a-ticket event, a benefit for the high school’s choir and for a local drug awareness program, is sponsored by the Sawyer Automotive Foundation.
Headliner singer Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. is best known for his version of songs of the classic crooners, and especially Frank Sinatra. Murphy’s is a story of an almost destitute West Virginia coal miner’s son who came to New York City, stood in line more than twelve hours for the NBC hit show, and performed Sinatra’s “I’ve Got You Under my Skin” at an audition. He survived five rounds of the competition before winning the million-dollar grand prize singing Sinatra’s “My Way.” That also entitled him to a headliner act in Las Vegas.
Murphy’s first record contract led to the album That’s Life, which debuted at number one in the jazz category on the Billboard charts. He’s performed a lot since then, including at the Apollo Theatre and with The Temptations in Detroit, at various state fairs and at a Super Bowl, and has made numerous major media appearances. He’s done the national anthem at Madison Square Garden and other public events. His co-written memoir From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star was published in 2013.
“No matter where you come from, the Great American Songbook is in everybody around that age’s heart,” Murphy told a Baltimore newspaper last year. “I was giving grandparents something to watch on television, and teaching the generations to come what good music is all about. I think it all just played out perfect, man.”
Last year, the Sawyer Automotive Foundation raised over $30,000 for the Saugerties High Marching Band. The causes being benefited this year are the school’s district’s vocal music program under part-time music teacher Rebecca MacDougall and the anti-drug initiative Raising Your Awareness About Narcotics (RYAN), created by the family of Carole Kelder in honor of her son Ryan, who died last year as a result of his addiction. The proceeds from the benefit will support the educational programs that both MacDougall and the Kelders have been developing.
Opening at the event will be Mike Speirs, a comedian who is a Saugerties High School graduate and a member of a well-known Saugerties family (and grandson of Dottie Speirs, who died in September). Mike Speirs is also a sometime teacher in the Albany area who also gives outside presentations to schoolchildren on the evils of bullying. He encourages kids to make their decisions on what they know to be right rather than to follow the crowd.
To obtain tickets for this November 19 benefit evening, send your name, address, phone number and email address plus a check for $25 per ticket to Sawyer Automotive Foundation, c/o Sawyer Motors, 166 Ulster Avenue, Saugerties NY 12477. Tickets, which are also available from designated ticket-sellers, will be mailed to you. Additional monetary donations will be gratefully accepted.