Danny Murray was named the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year during the President’s Circle Dinner at Lee University’s Homecoming this past weekend. This award is the highest honor given by the university to alumni and is given to a graduate who demonstrates excellence in his or her career, while also embracing the values that Lee embodies.
“It was clear from the beginning that Murray was a guy of special talent, energy, and drive,” said Dr. Paul Conn, Lee University president.
Mr. Murray, a veteran member of the Lee University family, is originally from Burlington, N.C., and received his bachelor's degree in music from Lee University before joining the senior administrative team of the university in 1995.
Mr. Murray was a member of Dr. Conn's original leadership team which developed the Office of Institutional Advancement in 1985. In that office, he served as director of college promotion for two years before his promotion to director of institutional advancement in 1987. As former promotions director for Bill Gaither and SpringHouse, Mr. Murray and his wife, Dr. Debbie Murray, founded and directed the ensemble New Harvest, recording some 11 projects and touring internationally for 15 years.
Currently, aside from his administrative duties as director of Church Relations, he is the director and founder of one of Lee's touring choirs, the Voices of Lee. VOL is a 15-member a cappella ensemble founded in September 1994.
“Danny took all the lessons he’d learned about choirs from his time as part of the Lee Singers, experience from leading music and worship in local churches, and what he’d learned from his own small ensemble groups Harvest and New Harvest, and put it all together 25 years ago to create the Voices of Lee,” said Dr. Conn. “Few days have been more positive and more important for the development of this university than the day Voices of Lee was created. The group expresses the spirit and the hunger to be great that they learned from their director Danny Murray.”
VOL has appeared on Good Morning America and performed for “Christmas at the White House” in Washington, D.C. They have toured Europe with concerts at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and have been featured performers in China at the Shang Hai International Music Festival.
In 2018, the ensemble was voted “Favorite Collegiate Group,” “Favorite Religious Group,” and “Favorite Video” by the International A Cappella Music Awards’ voting audience. Most recently, their video recordings have exceeded 103 million views online.
“I can’t say enough thanks to Paul and Darlia Conn who have led us to make Lee a place we can all be proud of,” said Mr. Murray. “I am so thankful for their leadership, and how they have been such a blessing to me. There are a lot of people who deserve this award more than I do, but you won’t find anyone more grateful to have received it.”