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Murphey is the world's most prominent musical representative of the Western horseman (Richard Farnsworth, legendary Hollywood stunt man and Western actor once called him a "master horseman"), the horse rancher, cattle rancher, and cowboy. He's also a lover of the outdoors, with a strong commitment to issues regarding farmers and ranchers, open space, and management of natural resources.
In 1972, A&M released the debut album by Murphey entitled Geronimo's Cadillac . The first album was produced by Bob Johnston( who discovered Murphey at his old coffee house stomping grounds, the Rubiayat, in Dallas, Texas) who also produced Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, and Leonard Cohen- which made the critical world pay attention to Murphey as a serious songwriter. Written as a protest song after Murphey saw a photograph taken of the Chief being paraded in a Cadillac convertible, the single not only made it to the Top 40, but was used at the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1974.- sealing his lifelong association with the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. "Geronimo's Cadillac" was later recorded by such artists as Hoyt Axton, Mary McCaslin, Cher, and Johnny Rivers .
Murphey founded and trademarked a Western cultural festival in Colorado called Westfest in 1987, which has been called the best festival in America by many critics. He has expanded Westfest to other states, and like the Buffalo Bill and his Wild West shows of old, Murphey has become synonymous with American West showmanship, culture, lifestyle, and scholarship. In fact, Murphey was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Music and American Studies at Utah State University by a group of scholars who predicated in creating the Oxford History of the American West. Michael has been chosen as the recipient of the Buffalo Bill Award by the State of Nebraska, given at Nebraskaland Days in North Platte, where Buffalo Bill lived, and began his Wild West shows.
Michael also broke ground with an innovative concert concept called "Cowboy Christmas™" in 1987, which has become a trademarked touring show and musical concept for him. The tour now spans 40 cities per holiday season, and has led to three Cowboy Christmas™ albums and a Cowboy Christmas™ DVD. Again, Murphey was reviving a tradition from Texas. The Texas Cowboys' Christmas Ball in Anson, Texas, was a little-known event outside of West Texas, until Murphey discovered and recorded Larry Chittenden's 1880's classic song, " The Cowboys' Christmas Ball" in 1985. The event is now world-famous, due to Murphey's tireless praise for this tradition. Murphey now plays the original location of the ball in Anson every year.
Michael has also received awards for his accomplishments in many fields. The award for which he is most honored is the Golden Smoky Award , given to him by the Department of Interior for his tireless work in conservation and wildlands fire awareness. Other awards in include: Gold Albums for COWBOY SONGS VOL. I, BLUE SKY NIGHT THUNDER, WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN, Charlie Russell Award for Western Heritage, 5 "Wrangler" awards from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame, Academy of Country Music, Rock Music Awards, Academy of Western Music Award for Best Album and Song, Governor of New Mexico's Outstanding Achievement Award, Honorary Lifetime Membership in the American Quarter Horse Association, Honorary Paul I. Harris Award from Rotarians International, Outstanding Citizen Award by the Town of Taos, New Mexico, Outstanding Son of Texas Award by the Texas Legislature, BMI Awards for Radio Airplay, and special citation for Outstanding Contribution to the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for his work on public awareness of Wisconsin Trails.
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