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2011 in Review | From Rags to Riches


Okay, I have to admit, my guilty sinful pleasure is that I LOVE “America’s Got Talent.”  The ONLY reality show I watch.  And it is because I hope and adore when people like Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. come on.  Here is a man from West Virginia whose trade is washing cars.  Has never sang professionally other than at charities.  Not even in a smoke-filled bar in the back hills of West Virginia.  He has also never done an audition… until AGT.  In the shows audition, Landau walks out on the stage, is chided by Piers Morgan for chewing gum, then he starts singing… and a rare voice flows forth like only one other before him.

Howie Mandel tells him after he is done singing that, “You’re life is never going to be the same.”  And Landau breaks into honest tears.  Howie’s prophecy was fulfilled.  Landau ended up winning the competition, and this win makes my heart fill with joy.  He is most worthy and definitely deserving of going from rags to riches.

If you have not seen him, please watch – at least the first video below.  If you have, hopefully you’re like me and can listen to him sing time and time again.


Here is Landau’s final performance which ended up winning him the contest.  One million dollars and a headline show in Las Vegas NV.  An excellent choice of song….


Before they announced the finale results, each finalist was allowed to perform their act with their favorite performer.  Here is Landau’s performance with Patti LaBelle… a most excellent performance!  I adore how Patti backs up and allows Landau to “take the stage,” and have his moment he deserves.  She has enough dignity and respect to know that this show is about the competitors, not her.


And, finally, here is the scene when they announce him the winner.  Truly touching.  One which was a love/hate moment in his life… He won, but he also felt a lot of pain as he beat out a dance troupe of incredible children.  Thoughout the series, he would often display the guilt and sadness he felt for the one who lost to him.  I never saw these emotions as acting, but rather pure of heart.


A little more about him.  Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. was born in Logan, West Virginia.  Landau is the grandson of the late Reverend Cecil Murphy, one of the Five Pioneers, who was instrumental in Landau’s participation and growth in church and Sunday school activities.  Landau has been entertaining family and friends since early childhood at local parties and school dances.  Landau has always entertained, singing the songs of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and many other amazing talents.

In 2003, Landau made a bet to his then girlfriend, Jennifer Carter, that he could win a talent show contest at a local arts and crafts fair.  The response that Landau received was so amazing that they asked him to sing every year after that.  From then on, Landau kept entertaining by performing in shows for local charities such as the We Can Program, the local Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Home Society and local fairs.  On November 25, 2005, Landau and Jennifer wed, as he continued to pursue his dream.  He took a job washing cars at a car dealership in Chapmanville, West Virginia to support his family of four children, and still he continued to practice.  By the end of 2010, Landau realized that he really enjoyed the entertainment world and knew he had to do something big and get his talent out to the world.

Since winning the competition, a few items Landau has done was singing the National Anthem at the WVU vs LSU game on September 24th, 2011, and released his first album on November 21, 2011.


“The Man With the Golden Voice”  Although technically not a “rags to riches” but more along the lines of “rags to fame.” Ted Williams was a panhandler on the side of a road in Ohio when a local reporter video taped him “performing,” uploaded it to YouTube, and it became viral.  He was offered a job by the Cleveland Cavaliers “and a house!  A house!  A house!”  But it appears that the overnight fame was too much for him.  According to his lawyers, Williams “was unable to deal with the stress and pressures that came with his national recognition, and his dependence and use of alcohol and drugs became more severe. [Williams] was totally incapable of understanding what was happening to him or handling [his] own affairs.”  The most recent information (published Sept 15, 2011) that I can find about Williams now is that he has completed a 90-day rehab program and is in the works of writing a book.  He was seen at Occupy Wall Street on November 11th, 2011.  I wish him the best.  Overcoming alcohol and addiction is not an easy thing to do.



  1. I watched part of this show, but never did get a chance to see Landau perform. I did see the final show when he won. After watching these videos, he clearly deserved to win, If I recall, another show I really enjoyed was on at the same time; The Voice. I was flipping between the two at first and then stuck with The Voice. That’s another really good show. Anyway, I think many love shows like these because we all have similar dreams, and to use our talents to make it to the “big time”. Watching someone with such a beautiful and natural gift make it from what we know as a normal life, sometimes not a very good one (as in Landau’s case, even being homeless and working his way out of that) to landing a regular show in Vegas and a million dollars, is something we all dream of doing in our own way, whether it’s Vegas or something else. Thanks for sharing this. He’s fantastic!

  2. I’m a sucker for these rags to riches shows and stories and am always amazed at the raw talent that emerges from totally unexpected places. I was, however, very disappointed with “X Factor.” It was so overproduced with glitz, glam, lights, dancers, etc., that it was difficult to hear and enjoy the talent of the contestants themselves.

    • Yeah, the production overkill often hurts the show. AGT does that too. They move the camera angles around too much and too quickly that it is often difficult to see the actual performance. Especially with the acts that move around on stage a lot.

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