Seasoned R&B/Gospel vocalist, Shirley Murdock, has been on a journey.
Since the age of 15, she aimed for a gospel career. In the `80s, 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, Bishop T. D. Jakes took Murdock under his wing and invited her to sing on his #1 CD, Sacred Love Songs.
Since, then, she’s toured in gospel stage plays and recorded gospel hits, like the Stellar and Dove Award nominated “I Love Me Better Than That.”
Now, Murdock has realized a lifelong dream of recording her first live CD/DVD entitled, “Live: The Journey” on Tyscot Records.
Aside from writing or co-writing all twelve songs, Murdock also made the project distinctive by including duets with her longtime industry pals… Kelly Price, Regina Belle and Beverly Crawford on the soulfully sanctified project.
On the set, Murdock showcases good old hand clapping, foot stomping songs like the up-tempo “He is God,” the Mardi Gras-flavored “Rejoice Come On” and the powerful worship song, “Lord, You Reign.”
Kelly Price, who enjoyed a hit with a remake of “As We Lay”
joins her for the tender, “Keep Lovin’ Me.”
Murdock infuses songs like, “It’s In Your Hands” and “The Word” with her R&B roots and Regina Belle absolutely shines on the jazzy, “The Upward Way.”
The incredible Beverly Crawford steps on board to rock the traditional, “He Is The Rock.”
“God Can Do Anything” percolates with spunky funk, while “Winner In Me” and “Dream” are inspiring anthems.
Price, Belle and Crawford all join 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, Ohio. “My upbringing was great, but my parents divorced when I was about nine years old,” she says. There was always music in the house, from the gospel melodies of Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar and the Hawkins Family, to Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. “I took songs like ‘Hypnotized’ by Linda Jones and learn how to do runs. They were fascinating! I used a hairbrush for a microphone and locked myself up in the bathroom to practice, 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 ’70s 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, until one day her cousin took a recording of Murdock singing gospel to Roger Troutman, who 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, is really you? Is this the door you’re opening for me?” Going into secular music wasn’t my plan; I just was just trying to figure out and 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 started a family 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 arena in ways that many gospel artists cannot.
All of my r&b CDs had always had a gospel or inspirational song on them and I always had a gospel segment in my set. I remember a waitress coming up to me after a concert one night at a club and said, she wasn’t supposed to work that night, but was glad she did. She told me she used to be saved. I said, “Used to be? Baby, God is married to the backslider!” Right there, in that club, she gave her life back to the Lord again. It wasn’t traditional church but, I believe I was truly ordained to be there at that moment in time, just for her!”