Photo Credit: Trae Patton/NBC
Who did viewers crown as the season 6 winner of America's Got Talent? During Wednesday night's finale, host Nick Cannon announced that America had awarded the $1 million prize to the classics crooning, baritone singer Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
"Thank you so much for just believing in me and letting me be myself on national television in front of the whole world," said the mild-mannered native of West Virginia, who used to make ends meet by washing cars at an auto dealership. "This is incredible. It's been a long, hard journey. I've been busting my butt out here for this for so long, and it's finally paying off, man!"
That payoff also includes a headlining gig in Las Vegas, which fits perfectly with his Rat Pack-era sensibilities. During one memorable performance, he'd sung Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon."
As usual, the majority of the America's Got Talent's finale was devoted to celebratory performances by the final four acts. So even before his name was announced, Landau, 37, already appeared to be on Cloud 9, because he got to sing a duet with Patti LaBelle.
Even though the remaining contestants didn't take home the grand prize, they still had a memorable evening. The interpretative dance group Silhouettes, which ended the evening as the runner-up, performed with LeAnn Rimes. Third place winners Team iLuminate performed with Cobra Starship, and the California teen band, Pop Lyfe, sang with Stevie Wonder.
Were the judges happy with America's vote? They certainly were! All three of them praised Landau for winning and for excelling throughout the competition. "You could see Landau's progression through the show, it was so noticeable," said judge Sharon Osbourne after the show. "The way his performance qualities changed every week, he was a clear winner."
"America chose him, and America can't get it wrong!" said her co-judge, Howie Mandel. "He stuck right in his game. He knew what America was responding to. He is phenomenal, and he's gonna be a superstar for many years to come."
"He was the most charismatic act in the show," said Piers Morgan. "He's humble, he's likable, and he's incredibly talented."
All around, it was a happy ending. And even if you voted for one of the other three acts, take heart: They get to play Vegas, too.