Shirley Murdock on ‘Unsung’: The R&B Singer’s Tragedy

Getty Smokie Norful, Shirley Murdock and VaShawn Mitchell

Shirley Murdock will appear on tonight’s episode of Unsung. The episode, which airs on TV One, sees Murdock recount her career and the tragic murder-suicide of her mentors, Larry and Roger Troutman. Learn more about Murdock and her connection with the Troutman brothers below.

According to Atlanta Black Star, it was the Troutman brothers who helped put Murdock on the map as a singer. They were the leaders of the popular funk band Zapp, and they hired Murdock to sing lead female vocals on several of their tracks, including the 1986 hit “Computer Love.” Murdock told ABS that her original career goal was to become a gospel singer, and the success she achieved with Zapp was unexpected.

Murdock Was Discovered By Zapp Musicians Larry & Roger Troutman

“It was my heart’s desire to sing gospel,” she revealed. “I was pursuing a gospel career but those doors never opened. And so, when I met Roger, I walked in the door by faith through the door that God opened.” Murdock struck out as a solo artist later than year, and her self-titled debut went gold on the strength of the lead single “As We Lay.” It was a Top 10 R&B hit and it peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. “As We Lay” was co-written by Roger Troutman, and remains Murdock’s signature song. 

Murdock says she’s still affected by the 1999 deaths of Larry and Roger. According to Rolling Stone, Roger was found shot in his recording studio, and died hours later in surgery. Larry was found in a car several blocks from the studio with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities deemed it a murder-suicide with Larry noted as the shooter. Murdock describes hearing the news as a “devastating event,” and said that her faith helped her through the mourning process.

Murdock Said She Was ‘Devastated’ By the Troutman Murder-Suicide In 1999

“It was my faith in God and just the love that we all have for one another that kept us going,” she explained. “And not giving up knowing that God has a way of making all things work … I came to a conclusion that when there’s a senseless act you will never understand it So stop trying to make sense of it and accept it to be what it was.”

“Even though it was hard,” she added, “the love that I had for both those men and the role that they played in my life would never make me regret knowing them or experiencing them or receiving the wisdom I got from them as a young woman coming into the industry. We survived it, There’s triumph in survival … there will be beauty out of the ashes.”

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