New CD “SOULFOOD”
As I have said many times, God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends and family during my ride here on the LifeTrain. I blog about as many as I can in my Obituary. I also blog about my “family” here, out front. Anyway, one such wonderful and dear friend is my beloved sister, Mrs. Shirley Murdock. I call her the woman with the Angelic voice from God because of something that I experienced being with her at the Apollo Theater in New York.
It was the late 1980 something, I was at a concert featuring the now deceased Roger Troutman and Zapp, Howard Hewitt, and of course the first lady of the Angelic choir, Shirley.
I was sitting on stage, behind the backdrop curtain watching the concert. After Shirleyâ€™s set she came backstage and sat beside me while the next performers were setting up. We talked until the group started playing and it was then that I experienced her gift up close and personal. She started to sing along with the group.
Now, I think I recall Zapp doing “Computer Love”. As I sat there beside her, listening to her sing (that close), chills ran up and down my spine. I mean, of course we know the gurl can straight SANG, but being that close to her, it was a moment I have never forgotten. What a gift from God. I just glory and wonder at how God gifts people, like the parable of the talents. Take Michael Jordan for instance. I was not just so much a fan of Jordan as I was in awe of the majesty of God. He created Michael, He created the birds, flowers, stars, music, you, me and an angel called Shirley Murdock.
By the way, please check out the Tom Joyner “Skyshow” this Friday. My sister will be bringing down the house.
At this point it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce to you, again, I say again because I am sure most of the passengers on this Train know her already. However, here’s some information on the lady herself and her new CD entitled “SOULFOOD!â€
SOULFOOD is what musical chef; Shirley Murdock has been cooking up in her recording studio of a kitchen lately. She has made an undeniable imprint on the Quiet Storm R&B radio format over the last twenty years with signature hits such as the goldselling â€œAs We Lay,â€ â€œGo On Without Youâ€ and her Husband.â€ Sheâ€™s also a woman, who has survived a whole lot of heartache, pain and pressure to conform to how the public and the music industry perceives her ministry. Through it all, sheâ€™s traded her tears for laughter, and in her own words, â€œIâ€™ve gotten beauty for ashes.â€ Her sophomore gospel recording, â€œSoul Food,â€ is a multi-format CD that is meant to touch the hearts and souls of every Shirley Murdock fan, whether they love her as the woman behind â€œAs We Layâ€ or the woman who sang on Bishop T.D, Jakesâ€™ Sacred Love Songs. â€œThe whole cd is meant to encourage you,â€ she says with ebullient joy. â€œItâ€™s like a buffet of great messages, inspiration and praise and worship. If you just go and get you a plate, youâ€™ll have a full course meal of everything you need.â€ The album was born from Murdockâ€™s heart. â€œA lot of people want to hold me hostage because of `As We Layâ€™ but they fail to understand that the song never glorified infidelity,â€ she protests. â€œIt dealt with a real life situation. The fact that it was infidelity got your attention but the meat of the song was about consequences and hind sight being 20/20. Baby, you got to count up the cost because you may not be able to afford that thing.â€ As she and her husband, Dale Anthony DeGroat (an associate minister at 2nd Baptist Church in Springfield, OH), began to write and produce soul Food themselves, they were looking for songs that talked about consequences and solutions to consequences. â€œI Love Me Better Than That,â€ was one of those songs. â€œItâ€™s an empowering song,â€ she confesses. â€œI sing at conferences and prisons. I wanted the CD to reflect total ministry because weâ€™re body, soul and spirit. A lot of times, in the body of Christ, we arenâ€™t balanced. We know how to do church but do we know how to be a wife or a husband and develop relationships? So, I wanted this CD to speak to every part of who we are. I see every kind of woman, broke down, disappointed, dreams broken, low self-esteem – just issues. I wanted a song that would empower them. We need to get back to who God says we are but there may be some things blocking us from being who we were really meant to be. So, I suggest that we roto-rooter our lives and realize that before you love anybody else, you must first learn to love yourself.â€ She was in Dallas, TX starring in a musical play a year or so ago and had gone to Heaven 97 AM, a local radio station, to do an interview for the play. â€œWe had just put the CD out on CD baby so that it could bless the people in that way. I let an announcer named Antonio Johnson at Heaven 97 listen to a little of the song. He really liked it and started playing it. The phones started lighting up and people wondered how they could get it.â€ Johnson took up the cause and began calling friends at recording labels to suggest that they released the project. His contacts at Tyscot Records agreed to take on the project and a new chapter in Murdockâ€™s musical cook book was birthed. The project simmers with soulfully reverential ballads such as â€œThank You,â€ an a cappella song that Murdock layered with her own vocals for a celestial atmosphere. â€œItâ€™s a very simple song. It came out of my personal praise and worship time.â€ The tune, â€œPraise Himâ€ was also birthed in Murdockâ€™s private prayer time. Thereâ€™s a track called â€œYou are My Righteousnessâ€ that Murdock says has â€œbeen in my spirit for ten years. We were made righteous not because of anything we did but because of Jesusâ€™ righteousness.â€ The savory stew of â€œThe Invitation/Nothing But The Bloodâ€ opens as a meditative, spoken word ballad where Murdock invites the listener to come to Jesus and know Him for himself. It then, morphs into a song celebrating the sacrifice of God. â€œMore Than A Conquerorâ€ starts off with an acoustic feel and builds into an explosive paean of praise. â€œThatâ€™s scripture,â€ Murdock explains. â€œI go on to say in the song that, `I know you have trials, I know you have temptations but God has given you the strength for every situation. You are more than a conqueror.â€™â€ Then, thereâ€™s the soothing taste of â€œRhema Wordâ€ that Murdock says, â€œsimply says: `Speak to my heart, speak to my mind. Iâ€™ve gone to my friends and they are in trouble too. I need a fresh word from God. Iâ€™m going through and I need help.â€™ Itâ€™s really a prayer asking for answers.â€ Those are the kinds of prayers Murdock summoned when she was at her lowest moments. When her beloved mother suddenly died in October 1998, â€œI told the Lord,â€ she says as she relives the pain. â€œEverything I know about you and everything Iâ€™ve ever heard about you has got to kick in now. I was crying and carrying on and the spirit of the Lord said to me, `that [your motherâ€™s passing] wasnâ€™t about you. But I made a promise to her that when her work was finished, Iâ€™d bring her home to rest.â€™ After that, my tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. I still get a little sad because I miss her, but Iâ€™m able to rejoice now when I think of her.â€ Then, a few months later, her mentors, Roger Troutman and his brother, Larry, died in a mysterious fratricide that is still a mystery. â€œI know they loved each other,â€ says Murdock. â€œI donâ€™t know what would happen to make Larry hurt Roger and none of us will find out the answer on this side. But, weâ€™ll know the answer by and by.â€ However, Murdockâ€™s picnic also features party jams such as â€œThe F.O.G.â€ which stands for the Favor of God. Itâ€™s a funky, old school throw-back to Murdockâ€™s days in the Zapp Band camp. â€œItâ€™s really funny and funky and the remix has the vocoder and all that traditional Zapp sound to it,â€ she laughs. The remix even features a cameo by Zapp members, Bigg Robb & Sure 2 B, who also produced the infectious vibe. â€œShout Nowâ€ is a foot-stomping track perfect for running up and down the church aisles. Backed by the Solid Rock Church Fire Choir featuring Jana Mitten and Paula Ewell, this tune packs a mouthful of loud praise. â€œDonâ€™t wait â€˜til the battle is over, donâ€™t wait â€˜til the victory is won, â€¦shout now!â€ Murdock exclaims. Murdockâ€™s husband joins in on the festive reggae Rumba, â€œOh To Know Him.â€ The collection is rounded out with a live version of â€œI Love Me Better Than Thatâ€ which was recorded at a Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion in Cincinnati last year. The song has all the charm and soul of Murdockâ€™s greatest R&B hits and should find a home at urban adult contemporary radio. This musical soul food is the bread and water that has sustained Murdock all of her life. She was born the youngest of three girls and three boys in Toledo, OH in the late 1950s. â€œWe were the black Brady Bunch,â€ she cracks. Her father was an assembly line worker at a factory and her mom was a surgery assistant. â€œMy upbringing was great but my parents divorced when I was nine years old,â€ she says. â€œI had some rough spots with my Dad but we made up.â€ Murdockâ€™s mom kept her brood in church and she was weaned on the spiritual nougat of Rev. James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Aretha Franklin, the Clark Sisters and the Hawkins Family. â€œâ€œI would take songs like `Hypnotizedâ€™ by Linda Jones and learn how to do runs. I was attracted to those runs. I also grew up on Shirley Temple and of course, there was a connection with her name,â€ she laughs. â€œI saw the Jackson 5. I saw kids having an opportunity to do what they dreamed of doing and I wanted to do that. Iâ€™d use a hairbrush for a microphone. Iâ€™d use the broom for a bass guitar. I used to lock myself up in the bathroom because the acoustics were so great. My brothers would always be calling for me to get out because I was taking long doing my shows.â€ After she was born-again, sanctified and saved in 1972, Murdockâ€™s biggest dream was to become a professional gospel singer. â€œIn the early 1970s gospel music was not what it is today,â€ she concludes. â€œIt was a very tight field. There was Andrae Crouch, the Hawkins Family. Later on, there was the Winans. It was a very small ship to get try and get on board and there wasnâ€™t a lot of room. Those doors didnâ€™t open for me.â€ Still, she kept pushing and hoping for an opportunity. Her cousin took a recording of Shirley singing gospel to Roger Troutman of the funk group, Zapp, circa 1983. Troutman had no connections in the gospel music industry but he was amazed by Murdockâ€™s voice. Roger offered her a deal that she initially refused. â€œI said, â€œLord is this you?â€ Going into secular music wasnâ€™t my plan; I just was being who I was. I wasnâ€™t going to leave church and just be out there in the world doing drugs and drinking. After prayerful consideration, Shirley received release in her spirit from God to accept Troutmanâ€™s offer. He asked her to move to Dayton so that he could spend time getting to know her and training her. When I got to Dayton, Roger had me doing background vocals for projects and it was like boot camp. It was God ordained. I met my husband, got married and had my child in Dayton. I had a positive influence on Rogerâ€™s life in Dayton. My family moved to Dayton and did some positive things. I donâ€™t think they would have had the same opportunities had they stayed in Toledo.â€ Success came quickly for Murdock with the release of her debut project â€œShirley Murdock!â€ on Warner Brothers Recordsâ€™ subsidiary Elektra Records. After her initial hit, â€œNo More,â€ stormed the dance charts, the tender ballad â€œAs We Layâ€ 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. She continued to enjoy several hit recordings and was at a gathering for her pastor that Bishop T.D. Jakes attended in the late 1990s. They talked and he invited her to perform songs such as â€œThe Lady, Her Lover, and Lordâ€ on his Sacred Love Songs project in 1999 on Island/Def Jam. When Island closed its black music division, Jakes launched his own Dexterity label. â€œI had told Bishop Jakes that I always wanted to do a gospel cd, so when he opened Dexterity, he called me and said hereâ€™s your chance to do that CD.â€ The Home project received a warm embrace from the gospel world and reached #9 on the Billboard 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. â€œI never pursued a secular career,â€ she testifies. â€œIt 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 wasnâ€™t supposed to work tonight but Iâ€™m glad I did. I used to be saved.â€™ I said, `Used to be?â€™ I told her, `Honey, God is married to the backslider!â€™ Right there in that club, she gave her life to God again. It wasnâ€™t traditional church but itâ€™s where God ordained for me to be.â€ â€œMy life would not be full if I did not have an opportunity to sing gospel,â€ she says urgently. â€œI was signed to Warner Brothers to do another R&B album when Bishop Jakes came into my life and offered to have me sing on some of his projects. I went to Roger Troutman and told him what I wanted to do. The first thing he did was release me from my production deal with him because he knew this meant a lot to me and he respected that. The second thing he did was that he got Warner Brothers to release me. He jumped through a whole lot of hoops but he did it. Without him, it would have never been done. That was in late 1998 and Roger died in April 1999. I would not be the person I am today without what he, Larry and his team contributed to my life. Iâ€™d rather have had them and lost them, then to have never had them. I didnâ€™t leave secular music because I was doing anything wrong. In the end, when my story is told, I donâ€™t have to defend myself. God, who knows who I am and what my purpose is, is my defense.â€
SHIRLEY MURDOCK SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
2007 Soul Food (Tyscot Records)
2002 Home (Dexterity Records/EMI Gospel)
Billboard Gospel Albums Chart Peak: 9
2001 The Very Best of Shirley Murdock (Elektra Records)
1991 A Womanâ€™s Point of View (Elektra Records)
Billboard Albums Chart Peak: 22
1988 Let There Be Love! (Elektra Records)
Billboard R&B Albums Chart Peak: 19
1986 Shirley Murdock (Elektra Records)
Billboard R&B Albums Chart Peak: 9