Ohio's Songbird & Former Zapp Vocalist, "Shirley Murdock" Using Her Voice for The Glory of The Lord!

Updated: May 7

Shirley Murdock, one of the most talented singers I have ever heard, has the voice of an angel! After hearing her for the first time, I was blown away by the beauty of her voice! To me, her voice is a sound that is totally unique. I found the combination of her beautiful vocals with the futuristic computer sound to be cutting edge and unlike anything I had ever heard before. Computer Love was a song that had to be played at my school dance in order for the dance to be successful. I can assure you that a bunch of rowdy, pimpled-faced 7th graders would confront the DJ if he did not play computer love (laughs). Despite the fact that Computer Love was released in 1985, it is still one of the hottest R&B gems of our time. I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Shirley. She shared much of her life experiences, both good and bad. The following is what she discussed with me.

Hi Shirly, how is the weather out there? Well today, it will be 70 degrees here in Dayton. It will be a little cooler tomorrow. We must keep the faith and know that trouble doesn’t last always!

Well, it's so good to speak with you. I’m truly honored to be able to interview one of my favorite artists! I’m definitely a fan of your voice. I grew up listening to your music! So, let’s talk about you. Where are you from? How was life growing up? I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, the fifth of six children. Although my parents divorced when I was young, my dad was a part of my life. As far back as I can remember, I grew up listening to a lot of music. My family was also very fond of music. My mother loved basketball and blues; my dad loved jazz my sister loved music also. So, as you can see, music was always happening!

I remember listening to Aretha Franklin, Gladys’s knight, and Stevie Wonder on the radio. I also loved gospel music! Some of my favorite gospel singers were mama's Shirley Caesar Some of my favorite gospel singers were mama's Shirley Caesar, The Hawkins, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Clark Sisters, and Andre Crouch!

So, I recognized that God gave me this special gift even as a young child. I knew it because of how I felt when I sang and how the people responded to my singing. I just knew that there was something going on with this voice that God gave. So, because I grew up singing in church, and had a strong relationship with the Lord, I thought I would become a gospel singer.

Now, back in the day, on Saturday mornings, I remember watching in black and white a little curly-haired white girl by the name of “Shirly Temple”. I felt like I could relate to her. We had the same name, she could sing and dance, she was an actor, and she was young like me. So, after seeing her, I said, “one day, that's going to be me”.

So, as I stated before, I thought I was going to be a gospel singer so, over the years, when I would be offered opportunities to sing mainstream, I would turn them down because I was thinking that I couldn’t sing secular music and be a Christian too. So, I was going to be a curly good Christian and sing gospel.

Later in my life, I traveled the country with a ministry team called, “T.E.T.R.E.C “, The End Time Revival Evangelistic Crusade. I was their praise and worship leader for that ministry. We traveled all over the country, city to city, doing weeklong revivals. We also recorded it on cassette tape. Yes, cassette tapes, that’s how long ago that was!

Now, my mother had a cassette copy of one of the songs we did from one of our conferences called, “Jesus’s is love”. We did a cover of, “The Commodores (Lionel Richie’s) song. Jesus is love”.

So, my cousin who worked at, “Troutman Enterprises”, begged my mom to give her a copy of the tape. So, she took it back to “Troutman Enterprises” where, Larry Troutman and Roger Troutman from the band “Zapp”, heard me singing and wanted to know who is she and does she want to make records? So, my eldest sister spoke to them on my behalf and told them that I wanted to sing gospel music, but, unfortunately, they didn’t have any connections in gospel, but left the door open for me to record mainstream music they would love to help me.

So, I left there, and said “God, why does this seem to be the only door that is opening to me?” In my heart of heart, I really wanted to sing gospel, but it seemed that at that time, only mainstream doors were opening. So, after I prayed about it, and talked to my family and pastor about the matter, I decided to walk by faith through the open door. And the rest was history. So, basically, I got my start through, Roger Troutman and Larry Troutman, who was his brother and manager, who then became my manager, who shopped a record deal for me and got me signed to Electra Records.

So, what happened from that point? Let’s dive deeper into your professional recording life. Let’s talk about your music and your recordings.

Well, we started making my record. I was commuting back and forth from Toledo to Dayton. One day, Roger called me and said, we need to finish this record, so I need you to move to Dayton. Also, he wanted to show me how to sing in the studio because I was used to singing in the church choir. So, he wanted to show me how to sing in the studio, how to sing in what we call, “singing in the pocket”. So, I've moved to Dayton and started making my record. At that time, Roger was on tour, so he asked me to come out on tour with him. That was a great opportunity for me as a young artist to be able to learn from somebody that was already doing what I was getting ready to do. So, it was a great experience being on tour with Roger and Zapp!

What were some other projects you worked on? In the meantime, I sang on many of the projects. Just to name a few, I sang on projects such as, “Sugarfoot from the Ohio players, New Horizons, which was a local Dayton group, and Roger Troutman and Zapp albums. I even co-wrote a song from the Zapp album called “Computer Love”. In fact, I sang along with Charlie Wilson on that song. Roger also produced a soundtrack for the “Martin Lawrence movie” called “A thin line between love and hate”. I'm featured on that title cut along with a group called, “H Town”. So, it’s been a great journey. And that's how I got my start. I just feel blessed to be able to do what I do.

What challenges do you encounter being a gospel singer and then transitioning into mainstream music? Before I could even resolve myself into taking that leap of faith, I did some soul searching. That soul searching said “Shirley, your relationship with God is personal. It has nothing to do with anybody else. You know in your heart of hearts that you asked “The Lord Jesus Christ” to come into your heart and to be your personal savior, so that's a done deal! Nothing was going to make me forget about that or snatch me out of God's hands! I also understood that it would not be a popular decision because people would think that you would lose your soul and that you would go to hell. They thought I would go out into the world and become a sinner. This is especially true when it comes to the music industry with all the horror stories about drugs and alcohol.

I think the blessing to me was that I didn’t get so-called discovered until I was in my mid-20s. This gave me an opportunity to come into my own and learn not only who I was, but what my standards for myself were. I always kept in my heart the things that my mama taught me about being a lady and having self-esteem, pride, and moral values.

These values were also established from the teachings I heard while sitting in the choir stand from the pulpit. So, all of these things combined strengthened and shaped my relationship with The Lord and The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was guiding and leading me into a