A Man Who Found His Way
THE IDLE AMERICAN
Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury
He didn’t see it as a turning point at the time–this budding vocal artist who was belting out country songs at the Burger Box in Arlington.
Craig Murphy, then age 40, might have been flipping burgers instead, trying to find a road that led somewhere instead of dead-end trails he’d followed for a couple of decades.
He’d studied with diligence, applied himself and earned certifications in several fields, including auto mechanics, truck driving, law enforcement and radio broadcasting. However, all these pursuits lost their luster.
A few years earlier, worshipers at his small church near his home in Fort Worth–mostly senior adults–loved his singing. Modest then as he is now, Craig decided to embark on a musical career, despite being introverted and “with limited talent.”
He soon found happiness in singing, even though it required his lugging around a makeshift sound system, microphone and background CDs, initially limited to burger places. There, he earned a few dollars and received modest tips.
With CDs providing background music for a couple of thousand songs, he had most of the lyrics memorized. The memorization came easy, since he had listened to country music driving 18-wheelers on trips–mostly at night–from New York to California. (A trucking school graduate, he soon learned that long-haul driving was not for him.)
Through luck or fate, the late Mrs. Johnny High heard Craig singing at a burger place, and immediately invited him to sing at the Johnny High Country Music Revue, a weekly show her late husband founded in 1974 and a Metroplex staple for some four decades.
He was awestruck at the prospect. He quickly accepted, feeling fulfillment on the Arlington stage. Soon, he was invited to sing for residents at Arlington Villa Health and Rehab.
That was a dozen years ago. At age 40, he was energized, thankful for what he felt to be “a new life.” Thanks to encouragement from Mrs. High–who died at age 91 a few months ago–he was “singing outside the (Burger) box.”
He had discovered his talent, as well as his audiences. He feels utmost delight in singing for residents of care centers, and the feeling is mutual.
They love him back.
Since then, he has sung at about 100 centers in Tarrant, Dallas and adjoining counties, often with three shows daily, monthly at most facilities.
He has performed more than 6,000 times, calling many of his admirers by name as he moves among his fans, shaking hands and wishing them well, always with a disarming smile.
Even COVID couldn’t dissuade Craig from his mission, his “call from God.” It knocked a hole in his scheduling, though. He felt almost as idle as his 1991 Chevrolet pick-up that he’d bought new and finally warehoused about the time COVID hit. (Most of the odometer’s 300,000 miles were registered as Craig drove to and from entertainment venues.)
Still, Craig averaged 200 dates annually–in 2020 and 2021–instead of 600, spending free time with a lawn service and putting his auto mechanic skills to work.
Now, he’s back, never busier and never happier.
Most all the care centers have retained him, and happily so. Some residents ask friends and relatives to visit “the nights Craig sings.” They have their favorites, of course, and one is his original composition, “Anytime,” recorded in Nashville. He sang it on television’s “Penny Gilley Show,” and it also is played regularly on radio. Its lyrics contend that any time is a good time for prayer.
Dr. Newbury was a long-time university president who continues to write weekly and speak regularly throughout Texas. Contact: Phone, 817-447-3872. Email: email@example.com Facebook: Don Newbury