Myrtle Beach welcomes singing superstars to stage for ‘Motown Memories’

For The Sun NewsMarch 19, 2014 

  • If you go

    What | The Long Bay Symphony “Motown Memories”

    When | April 5, 7:30 p.m.

    Where | Myrtle Beach High School Performing Arts Center, 3302 Robert M. Grissom Parkway, Myrtle Beach

    Information | 448-8379, longbaysymphony.com, wendymoten.com or chrismurrellmusic.com

I “heard through the grapevine” that April 5 at the Myrtle Beach High School Performing Arts Center, two singing superstars will grace the stage for “Motown Memories.”

As they say, there “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing,” and Moten and Murrell are the real thing. Between them, they have shared a stage with Julio Iglesias, Count Basie, Michael Bolton, Frank Sinatra, Michael MacDonald and Tony Bennett, to name a few.

To further whet your appetite, here’s a little more about these two amazing songbirds.

Q. | What can folks expect from a Moten/Murrell performance?

Moten | Well, I love what I do and I hope the audience feels my passion for music and people and they walk away feeling good.

Murrell | The audience can expect passion and a respectful treatment of one of the strongest spiritual entities on earth ... popular American music.

Q. | What is your favorite place to a play a gig?

Moten | Oh my … I would have to say my most memorable performance venue would be a performance I did with Julio Iglesias in 2010 in front of the Pyramids in Egypt. I used to sing duets with Julio for 15 years and we’ve toured all over the world at least three times, but Egypt made me cry of pure enchantment.

Murrell |As for venues, four stand out: Petronis Towers in Malaysia, Le’Meridien Hotel in Paris, The Kings Palace in Bangkok, Thailand and of course The Hollywood Bowl.

Q. | When did you first decide to become a performer?

Moten | It chose me from age 5 or 6. My dad was a preacher and we went to church three times a week, sometimes four. All of my siblings had to sing or play an instrument. Throughout my life opportunities would appear and I would continue to grow and love it more each time.

Murrell |The bug bit me at age 8 when mom dragged me to a children’s choir rehearsal.

Q. | What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Moten | That I watch 1957-1960s episodes of Perry Mason while I’m getting dressed for my shows on my iPad.

Murrell |Audience might be surprised that I grew up in the funeral business as well as the construction game.

Q. | Are there any types of music that you will not sing?

Moten | If there is something I won’t sing, it would probably be caused by the fact that I wouldn’t feel like I could do that genre any justice.

Murrell |I refuse to sing anything that denigrates women, children, family as a whole.

Q. | How do you feel when you sing?

Moten | The first five seconds my stomach is upside down. … But after that it’s about making beautiful music and connecting with the audience. A smile can go a long way…

Murrell |When I’m singing serenity exists because I know I’m doing what the Creator wants of me.

Q. | Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Moten | There are so many. But to name a few, Aretha Franklin, Julio Iglesias, Julie London, Stevie Wonder, Barbara Striesand, almost anyone from the 1950s , Coldplay, Green Day, The Strokes, and on and on…..

Murrell |Earliest influences were Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Johnny Mathis and Joe Williams.

Q. | What are some of your fondest memories of your career?

Moten | I love to travel. … The fondest memories consist of seeing the world and being fortunate to work with amazing, good people who become your extended family.

Murrell |Many fond memories: winning a Grammy in ’97 for best big band LP of year with The Count Basie Orchestra. Singing with Sinatra at soundcheck at Radio City Music Hall in the mid ‘90s. Duets with my mentor Joe Williams.

Q. | If you could perform a duet with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Moten | This is an even harder question. … I wouldn’t mind singing a duet with Michael Bolton.

Murrell | Duets with Ella [Fitzgerald] would’ve been sweet.

Q. | Do you listen to your own music?

Moten | I do now. I didn’t always. For me, I had to listen in order for me to grow.

Murrell |I listen to myself on occasion.

Q. | Do you have a song that you sing at every gig?

Moten | Not at the moment, but, I’m working on that.… My song is going to be Julie London’s “Blackbird.”

Murrell | One of my favorite songs is Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.”

Q. | What audience does your music typically appeal to?

Moten | I cross all demographics. I sing everything from R/B to pop to rock and country, too.

Murrell |I appeal to any ear that enjoys pretty and tender!

Q. | What television show would you love to have feature you singing a song, which song and why?

Moten | If I could be on the “Lawrence Welk” show. Not only would it make history, but, I love singing that style and I think I do well.

Murrell | Not sure which TV show.

Q. | What advice would you offer aspiring musicians?

Moten | They must have passion. … Whatever they are aspiring to do or be. Passion will carry you when you are the only one who believes. It takes a while to be noticed and in the mean time, you studio, practice, know your instrument, learn what gratitude and compassion is and continue to evolve and grow.

Murrell | This statement is to those aspiring to become: This is holy stuff. Don’t take God’s blessing lightly.

Q. | What has being a singer taught you about life?

Moten | It’s taught me gratitude and being more compassionate towards others. In my early years, it taught me the importance of having a great work ethic of working harder and being the best I can be. It’s a personal life challenge. Life is in the music. It’s universal and wordless most times. If you are open you will be moved.

Murrell | In closing, don’t forget “you learn ‘til you die.”

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