Seasoned soul/gospel vocalist, Shirley Murdock, has been on a journey.
Back in the `80s, she aimed for a gospel career before Roger Troutman, funk bandleader for the group Zapp snagged Murdock a record deal with Elektra Records where she recorded Top 10 R&B hits such as “As We Lay,” “Go On Without You,” “Husband” and “In Your Eyes.” Then, in 1999, evangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes took Murdock under his wing and had her sing on his #1 CD, Sacred Love Songs. Since, then, she’s toured in gospel stage plays and recorded gospel hits like “I Love Me Better Than That.”
Now, Murdock has realized a lifelong dream of recording her first live CD/DVD, Live: The Journey (Tyscot Records). Aside from writing or co-writing all twelve songs, Murdock also made the project distinctive by including duets with her industry pals Kelly Price, Regina Belle and Beverly Crawford on the soulfully sanctified project.
On the set, Murdock showcases congregational praise and worship songs like the up-tempo “He is God,” the Mardi Gras-flavored “Rejoice Come On” and the down-tempo, “Lord, You Reign.” A fan of Murdock, Kelly Price (who enjoyed a hit with a remake of “As We Lay”), joins her for the tender, “Keep Lovin’ Me.” Murdock infuses “It’s In Your Hands” and “The Word” with her R&B roots. Regina Belle shines on the jazzy, “The Upward Way.” Beverly Crawford and Murdock rock the traditional, “He Is The Rock.” The track “God Can Do Anything” percolates with spunky funk while “Winner In Me” and “Dream” are inspiring anthems. All the ladies – Price, Belle and Crawford – come together with Murdock for the rousing closing song, “Someday.” Throughout, the highlight of the project is Murdock’s vocal technique, a unique blend of jazz scatting and church runs, that never fail to bring unique verve and character to each song.
This is the life Murdock always envisioned for herself. The youngest of six kids, she was born in Toledo, OH in the late 1950s. “My upbringing was great, but my parents divorced when I was nine years old,” she says. “I had some rough spots with my Dad but we made up.” Murdock’s mom kept her brood in church and she was weaned on the gospel melodies of Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Aretha Franklin and the Hawkins Family. “I would take songs like ‘Hypnotized’ by Linda Jones and learn how to do runs. I was attracted to those runs,” she recalls. “I wanted to do that. I’d use a hairbrush for a microphone. I’d use the broom for a bass guitar. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom because the acoustics were so great. My siblings would always complain and beg me to get out because I was taking too long practicing my vocals.” Murdock’s biggest dream was to become a professional gospel singer. “In the early 1970s gospel music was not what it is today,” she concludes. “It was a very tight field… Those doors didn’t open for me.” Still, she kept pushing and hoping for an opportunity. Her cousin took a recording of Murdock singing gospel to Roger Troutman. Troutman had no connections in the gospel music industry but he was amazed by Murdock’s voice. Roger offered her a deal that she initially refused. “I said, `Lord, could this be you?’ Going into secular music wasn’t my plan; I just was just trying to figure out follow God’s plan for my life.”
Murdock moved to Dayton where Troutman mentored her in his musical boot camp. “It was God ordained,” she confesses. “I met my husband, got married and had my child in Dayton. ” Success came quickly for Murdock with the release of her gold-selling debut LP, Shirley Murdock!, on Elektra Records. After her initial hit, “No More,” stormed the dance charts, the tender ballad “As We Lay” shot up to #5 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and also charted nicely on both the Top 40 adult contemporary and pop charts in 1986.
A chance meeting with Bishop T.D. Jakes at a post-service gathering at Murdock’s pastor’s home, led to her recording “The Lady, Her Lover, and Lord” on his, Sacred Love Songs, project in 1999. “I told Bishop Jakes that I always wanted to do a gospel CD, so when he launched his record label, Dexterity Sounds, he called me and said, ` here’s your chance to do that CD.’” The Home project received a warm embrace from the gospel world and reached #9 on the Billboard Top Gospel albums chart in 2002. It was a dream come true that Murdock feels may have never happened were it not for her secular career. “I never pursued a secular career,” she testifies. “It came to me. It opened an opportunity for me to take the gospel into the secular market in a way that many gospel artists cannot. All of my R&B CDs had a gospel or inspirational song. I was doing an R&B concert and I had a gospel segment in my set. This waitress came up to me after the concert and said, ‘I wasn’t supposed to work tonight but I’m glad I did. I used to be saved.’ I said, ‘Used to be?’ I told her, ‘Honey, God is married to the backslider!’ Right there in that club, she gave her life to God again. It wasn’t traditional church but it’s where God ordained for me to be.”
In 2007, Murdock joined the Tyscot Records family and released her acclaimed CD, Soul Food, which featured her radio smash, “I Love Me Better Than That.” Over the years, Murdock has starred in a number of touring stage plays such as “A Mother’s Prayer” and “3 Ways To Get A Husband.” While writing songs for, Live: The Journey, Murdock’s husband and songwriting partner, Dale DeGroat, heard that Bishop Jakes was staging a
“Back To The Bible” conference. He asked Bishop Jakes if he had a theme song for the conference and he did not. “Dale emailed Bishop one evening and shared some ideas with him about a song,” says Murdock. “By 8 a.m. the next morning, Bishop emailed Dale some incredible lyrics. If you’ve ever sat down and talked to Bishop…OMG, then, you know his words are so full of wisdom, knowledge and revelation.” So, DeGroat and Murdock took those lyrics, added music and melody and crafted her new radio single, “Dream.”
“The song is anointed because it’s full of the word,” Murdock says of the inspiring ballad of hope and perseverance. “It’s like the voice of God speaking directly to your spirit, reminding you, that He’s not a man that He should lie…if He spoke it, will He not do it? This song will stir up and rekindle that word, that’s been spoken into your spirit and remind you that your dream can not…will not die.” A little something Murdock has learned on her journey.
Learn more about Shirley Murdock by visiting: www.shirleymurdocklifesongs.com/