Since she was 3 years old, Rita Harman has loved to sing.
As a child, she sang around her house at every opportunity. As she grew up in Harman, she joined her local church choir and went on the become a part of the Blue Ridge Quartet.
Today, Harman works as a nurse at the Kenneth Honey Rubenstein Juvenile Center in Tucker County. This does not mean that her singing days are behind her, however. Instead of dropping her hobby, she has moved on graduations, weddings and fundraisers, among similar events.
Photo courtesy of Rita Harman
Rita Harman, center, is photographed with America’s Got Talent winner and West Virginia native, Landau E. Murphy, left, after one of his concerts in Summersville where Harman was called on stage to sing with Murphy.
Her voice is good enough to allow her to be requested, by name. As a testament to her abilities, she is given the honor of singing the national anthem each year at the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services graduation and the Juvenile Center basketball games.
Although she normally signs the national anthem, this year another vocalist with roots in West Virginia took her place. His name is Landau E. Murphy, from Logan County.
Murphy, like Harman, had a religious upbringing, as his father was a pastor.
His fame was solidified when he won the 2011 "America's Got Talent" competition, where he performed songs by Frank Sinatra in both his audition and final performances. Following the competition, Harman performed in Las Vegas and now attends venues around the United States.
Following Murphy's performance of the national anthem, Harman waited to get his autograph. She also commented to him jokingly, "You took my job," since it had always been her privilege to sing at the event. Murphy quickly responded, "Next time, you should sing with me."
At a concert in Summersville, not long after the basketball event, Murphy was poised to sing the anthem once again. He knew Harman was attending the event and that she was seated among the tables near the stage.
Beforehand, he had asked Harman, "Are you ready to sing?" which she thought was partly a joke. However, when it came time to sing the anthem, Murphy walked out to her table and accompanied her up to the stage where they performed side by side.
Following the event, Murphy commented that Harman "came up here and smashed it," praising her on-the-spot performance.
Harman said Murphy is "humble and down to earth."
"He helps to portray West Virginia in a positive light," she said, "and he embraces his connection with the state."
Murphy released an album titled "That's Life," which has sold more than 46,000 copies.
Harman also hopes to record an album one day. Her dream is to record something similar to the style of Aretha Franklin, but she does not begrudge the other styles of music that are requested of her.