Published September 15, 2011
Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., won't be washing cars again -- unless they're his own.
The soulful vocalist who once supported himself by washing cars at an auto dealership sang his way to victory on Wednesday on "America's Got Talent."
"Thank you so much for just believing in me," he said upon hearing his name announced at the end of the NBC talent competition.
"It's been a long, hard journey," he went on, barely holding back his tears as the audience roared, "ever since I was a kid. And it's finally paying off."
Murphy, a native of Logan, W.Va., wins $1 million and a Las Vegas headlining contract.
With his rich voice and mild-mannered persona, Murphy had been a favorite of the judges and the audience all season. He beat three other finalists on the season-ending telecast. They included The Silhouettes, a troupe of youngsters from Arvada, Colo., who use shadow dancing to illustrate music. This enormous group, more than three dozen strong ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old, had charmed the audience with its visual effects.
Moments earlier, the other two acts had been cut. They were teenage rock band PopLyfe from Oakland, Calif., as well as Team iLuminate, whose dancing performers equip themselves with wearable wireless lighting systems.
Viewers had cast their votes after Tuesday's performance show, when Murphy sang Frank Sinatra's "My Way."
On Wednesday's broadcast, Murphy performed "You're All I Need to Get By" in a duet with Patti LaBelle.
He will headline in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace next month, with the other three finalists also on the bill.