Hardin-Simmons University Orchestra students had barely started to school when they found out that they would be performing on stage with one of the greats of country music. But it’s not Nashville’s country. Michael Martin Murphey is more of what many refer to as a Western music artist, writing and singing a gritty mix of folk, Americana, and Bluegrass.
The singer, songwriter, is also one of the newest inductees in the Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame. At the 37th Annual National Old Time Country, Bluegrass and Folk Music Festival in Le Mars, Iowa, earlier this month, Murphey was one of several notable artists inducted during the festival.
Murphey will be performing with the Hardin-Simmons University Orchestra at Behrens Auditorium this Saturday, September 15, 2012. The concert is a fundraiser for the orchestra, much like the rock band Kansas concert two years ago on the campus.
Dr. Peter Isaacson, director of the HSU Orchestra and professor of violin, says the 48 orchestra members have had three rehearsals with the music so far, and will have two more this week before the final rehearsal with Murphey on Saturday afternoon.
Isaacson says he chose Murphy for the fundraising concert because he already has a big West Texas following and has also played with more than 50 orchestras, including the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
While Murphey is probably best remembered for the hit “Wildfire” from his Night Thunder album in the mid-1970s, he has recorded almost 40 albums and his resumé includes working with some of the greatest names in music, from Willie Nelson to the Beach Boys.
In the ’90s, Murphey became the top-selling singer of American Cowboy Music in the world; in 2009, Murphey earned a Grammy nomination for “Buckaroo Blue Grass.” His most recent album is 2011’s “Tall Grass and Cool Water.”
For the past four decades, Michael Martin Murphey has made his mark on the American music landscape with such hits as “Geronimo’s Cadillac,” “What’s Forever For,” “Long Line of Love,” “Cherokee Fiddle,” and the Christmas classic “The Cowboy Christmas Ball,” a song about the real-life Cowboy Christmas Ball, held in Anson, Texas, every year in December.
Isaacson says collaboration with well-known artists, like Murphey, bring in audiences that might not otherwise come to hear the HSU Orchestra, “I hope that the interest generated, as we perform more unusual music styles, will bring some of these people back when the orchestra performs its traditional classical music concerts throughout the year,” says Isaacson.
Murphey has six Grammys and is also an inductee of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, Western Music Association Hall of Fame, Nebraska Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame.
Tickets are on sale in the Hemphill Music Building on the HSU campus all this week from 1:30-5 p.m., and can be purchased online at hsutx.thundertix.com. On the day of the concert, the box office will re-open in Behrens Auditorium 12 p.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, with tickets available again when the doors open at 7 p.m. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Ticket are $26 for general admission.