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2 years ago

Alabama actor goes viral with worst version ever of ‘O Holy Night’

Since leaving Alabama, Martin Landry has forged a career as a pianist and actor. (Photo/Kristin Mulligan)
Since leaving Alabama, Martin Landry has forged a career as a pianist and actor. (Photo/Kristin Mulligan)

Martin Landry really can sing. Really.

The 31-year-old performer graduated with a musical theater degree from Birmingham-Southern College, making his professional debut in Red Mountain Theatre Company’s “Forever Plaid” before heading to New York, where he works consistently.

But you’d never know that from his most-seen piece of work. His lip-syncing to an excruciatingly bad recording of “O Holy Night” has gotten more than 600,000 views on YouTube since it posted in 2008.

“It’s amazing how it has become part of people’s Christmas seasons,” Landry says. “It’s right up there with the egg nog and the Christmas movies they watch.”

Landry first heard Steve Mauldin’s version of the classic Christmas carol in 2002, when fellow RMTC actor Dylan Hunter sent it out with the note, “You have to listen to this.”

What he heard was Mauldin, an accomplished musician himself, playing around in a studio and singing a purposely bad vocal to an instrumental track underneath.

“I fell in love with that recording, a pure, unhealthy obsession, I would say,” Landry says. “I made my family listen to it, and I would ‘amuse’ them in the living room by lip-syncing live to it.”

In 2008, Landry and his roommate at the time, Trey Tatum, decided to videotape Landry’s performance for their electronic Christmas card.

They posted it on YouTube, and it began to get attention. Including from Mauldin, who wanted to remind people that it’s him doing the vocals.

“I tried to make it super clear it was a lip-sync,” Landry says. “But some people thought it was real. They thought I was the one singing. I wanted them to know the truth for two reasons: One, this is my career, and I don’t want people thinking I sing like this. And second, this guy’s a genius, and he deserves the credit.”

Landry, who lives in New York with is wife, Janice, has enjoyed a little bit of fame from his viral video.

“I was invited to lip-sync live to it once at Birdland, a club in New York City,” he says. “It’s the strangest performance I’ve ever given in my life. Half the audience enjoyed it. The other half was baffled and silent and maybe a little bit angry.”

He also, apparently, has fans in the Broadway community.

“The most glamorous story I have is that I went to see ‘The King and I’ on Broadway, and I had a friend in the cast who had won a Tony Award,” Landry says. “ She told me that one of her fellow actors in the show recognized me on the front row as the ‘O Holy Night’ guy. I apparently made a Broadway actress so nervous that she almost couldn’t do the show.”

Landry loves that his video is a must-see for many during the holiday season.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I love making people laugh.”

Marion Mayor uses tools to prep residents for AlabamaWorks Success Plus Initiative

By: Dexter Hinton, Mayor of Marion, Alabama

When I was elected in late 2016 as Mayor of Marion, I knew there were certain areas in which our town needed to improve. One was education and work preparedness for those who did not want to attend a four-year college. We had gaps that needed to be filled.

As an Industrial Maintenance and Robotics Instructor at the Career Center in Greene County, I know what resources are available to assist those seeking a job or a skills education. When people come to the center, our team has a plethora of tests, assessments, job listings, resume-building sessions and other items at our disposal to help folks get the right position or training that matches their needs or abilities.

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As Mayor, I realized we needed to get educational tools to Marion residents, especially after Moller Tech announced that it would be locating in Bibb County, adjacent to Perry County, and bringing 222 jobs with it. But with a small town like Marion (population 3,432) not having a dedicated resource center, we didn’t quite know how to unite the two. Then one day, I attended a Central AlabamaWorks meeting and saw AIDT’s mobile unit, which is the Department of Commerce’s skills education center on wheels.

I spoke with Mikki Ruttan, director of Central AlabamaWorks, after the meeting and asked her about the possibility of getting the unit to our area. I learned it could be customized for the needs of its audience. After numerous discussions with other local leaders, we selected basic resume building and a Ready-to-Work course as the initial offerings. I knew the mobile unit would be key in obtaining career readiness for the citizens of Marion. I also felt that our citizens would welcome the chance to improve their skills and knowledge base.

After dozens of conversations, we got the mobile unit scheduled this past April. We posted and delivered flyers all over the city, announcing when and where the unit would be located, and we created a Facebook page. We had no idea what kind of response we would have for this type of educational opportunity. But, our citizens realized how such training could give them a leg up in the job market. As a result, they turned out in droves to learn more and better position themselves for entry into the job market, or to simply upgrade their skill set.

With Gov. Kay Ivey’s Success Plus initiative rollout a few months ago, I knew we had to get our citizens more training to help them, and our state, reach the goal of 500,000 people with post-high-school credentials by 2025. The mobile training unit seemed like the perfect way to deliver those opportunities to our residents.

After some discussion, we were able to get the unit at The Lincoln School. We focused the training on Ready-to-Work. The classes filled immediately, and a waiting list soon formed. Our people were eager to gain knowledge to improve their lives and that of their families. Once they completed the course, they received credentials as an Alabama Certified Worker; a Career Readiness certificate; a free three-credit-hour course at Wallace Community College Selma (if they had a high school diploma); three credits toward a high school diploma (if they didn’t have one); and a referral to the Selma Career Center for free certificates or degree information from WCC in welding, industrial maintenance, electrical technology or nursing.

The unit has been so popular with our citizens that two classrooms are now being refurbished at The Lincoln School specifically for AIDT courses. This means we will have a permanent place for our people to get not only Ready-to-Work training, but also training in other much-needed professions offered by Wallace, such as cosmetology, carpentry, welding, automotive technician and others.

The excitement continues to build for our city. In fact, AIDT has already completed one Ready-to-Work training with several graduates who have received employment.

With the extra effort by Central AlabamaWorks, AIDT, the Career Centers and the Alabama Community College System – combined with the excitement and work ethic of our citizens – I know Marionites can and will be a valued part of the Success Plus endeavor. I look forward to seeing what our citizens can achieve for themselves, their families and our community.

26 mins ago

Quick-thinking witnesses stop robbery of 74-year-old woman

Good Samaritans in Midfield, AL, came to the aid of a 74-year-old woman who was being beaten and robbed on Wednesday.

The victim was at her vehicle after running errands at a shopping center when a man approached her demanding money.

The elderly woman refused, and the man began to hit her. Moments later, a witness told AL.com, the assailant then jumped into her SUV.

That is when a group of Alabamians sprang into action.

One of the heroes, William Daniels, pulled the assailant out of the vehicle, fought with him and held him down until police arrived.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” Kimberly Whitehead, a witness, told AL.com.

Daniels said he didn’t have time to think or get emotional.

“Who would sit back and watch a criminal beat a lady like that?” he explained.

Law enforcement officers praised Daniels for his potentially life-saving bravery.

“He was a godsend,” Midfield police Sgt. Jesse Bell said. “We don’t know what he would have done had they not been there. We’re thankful he was there to stop it.

Bell concluded, “We need more community involvement like this.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

38 mins ago

ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan: ‘If Dr. Bentley truly cares for Alabama, as he says he does, he would consider letting us go’

With speculation swirling around former Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan hopes he decides against running for another public office.

Lathan told Yellowhammer News, “I hope that if Dr. Bentley truly cares for Alabama, as he says he does, he would consider letting us go.” However, Lathan could not rule his return out at this time.

Yellowhammer News published an exclusive interview last week with Bentley where he left the door open on returning to public office.

While several media outlets, including the Associated Press, have unquestioningly submitted that Bentley’s plea agreement bars him from running for public office, a former Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney advised Yellowhammer News that it appears the former governor is actually eligible to run again after serving out his sentence.

“Based strictly on the plea agreement, what I’ve read, he would be able to [run for public office again],” Richard White, the attorney, opined.

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“Until qualifying opens for the 2020 election cycle, I cannot comment on a hypothetical situation,” Lathan stated.

This summer, Twitter and Facebook accounts representing the former Alabama governor were reactivated to coincide with the unveiling of Bentley for Alabama.

This new site, launched on Memorial Day, examines Bentley’s time serving as Alabama’s 53rd governor and provides contemporary updates on his life since leaving office.

In the original interview with Yellowhammer News, Bentley discussed his new project, his post-public life and specifically left the door open on a 2020 U.S. Senate run.

Wednesday, Bentley’s Twitter account hailed his status as a veteran and small-business owner, along with his work when governor to establish a program with the NFIB that benefits veterans.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

57 mins ago

Alabama native Tim Cook dines with Trump at Bedminster but the Apple CEO still has his back turned on his home state

Alabama native and Apple CEO Tim Cook does not appear to have a problem currying favor with President Donald Trump.

Last Friday, Cook dined with the president and first lady at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, NJ, marking Cook’s sixth private meeting with POTUS or his family in the nineteen months he has been in office.

Cook’s coziness with the Trump administration is particularly baffling and insulting for some Alabamians, given the Apple chief turned his nose up on his home state long ago for the same reasons he has criticized the president.

Cook has piled on Trump over social issues, not to mention the likes of the Paris climate accords, immigration and tariffs.

One cannot help but remember the Auburn graduate’s infamous and public 2014 spit-in-the-face of his home state – that time when he was being so graciously inducted into the Alabama Hall of Honor and decided to mark the occasion by belittling its citizens and lecturing them on how to live.

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Yellowhammer News founder Cliff Sims unloaded on Cook at the time. Sims was right then, and Cook’s latest hypocrisy regarding Trump just further cements his point.

“[Tim Cook] can get pub[licity] anytime, but chose a ceremony where he’s being honored to lecture the state he left on how we should live. Low class,” Sims said on Twitter.

He continued, “How about opening up an Apple factory in AL? Actually help some folks, instead of just swooping in to lecture us, then leaving.”

At one point, Apple was talking about bringing some jobs to Cook’s home state but the move was contingent on the Alabama legislature passing an LGBTQ-rights bill — at least that was the hot rumor floating around Montgomery at the time.

Almost four full years later, Alabama is home to Google and is adding a major Amazon distribution center in Bessemer while Cook still has his back squarely turned on the place he was born and raised.

If he can look past the president’s perceived faults in the name of business, why will Cook not do the same with Alabama?

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Former Governor Robert Bentley deposition filed in court this week

Former Gov. Robert Bentley provided new details of his view of the scandal that helped topple his administration, according to a deposition filed this week in circuit court.

Bentley resigned last year as he faced an ethics investigation and impeachment proceedings in the wake of an alleged affair with a top aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

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Bentley answered questions about the relationship and other matters in the June 23 deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by his former Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier.

Collier contends he was wrongfully fired by Bentley.

Here are some of the highlights of the deposition filed Monday in circuit court:

AN ‘AFFECTIONATE FRIENDSHIP’

Responding to questions about his relationship with Mason, Bentley called it an “affectionate friendship” but said the relationship did not involve sex and he did not consider it an affair.

Bentley said it did “involve touching and kissing, and I would hold her hand the times that I was with her.”

“So we didn’t have what a lot of people think we had.

Now did I really care about her? Did I really love her? I did, and she did me, and we still do.

It’s a very close affectionate friendship so that’s how I describe it,” Bentley testified.

He testified however that his relationship with Mason was a reason for his divorce.

Mason works as the office manager for his dermatology practice, he testified.

WON’T CONFIRM MASON ON TAPES

Bentley’s relationship with Mason was exposed after the release of recordings made by the governor’s then wife, Dianne Bentley.

In the recordings, Bentley is heard talking on the phone.

He was speaking affectionately to a woman he calls “Rebekah” and talking about touching her breasts, although her side of the conversation is not heard.

Under questioning, Bentley did not say he was speaking to Mason but acknowledged it was “likely” her.

“I’m not denying that it was her.

I’m just saying, there’s no concrete evidence that it was her but most likely it was but I don’t think you can prove that with the tapes,” Bentley testified.

Bentley said his wife was able to view his text messages to Mason on an iPad because he did not know his state cellphone was synced to the iPad.

PRESSURED TO INTERVENE IN CORRUPTION CASE

Bentley testified that he was getting pressured to intervene in the Alabama attorney general’s office’s investigation of then-House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Bentley said some people wanted state prosecutor Matt Hart off the case.

“A lot of people were pressuring me to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the attorney general’s office,” Bentley testified.

He said businessman and GOP political donor Jimmy Rane and Rob Riley, the son of former Gov. Bob Riley, were among those that approached his office.

So too did three legislators and Hubbard’s attorney, he said.

Rane said Wednesday that he did call Bentley’s office, but was not asking Bentley to take any specific action.

Rane, who has known Hubbard for decades, said he was asking for assurances, “that this is a fair and real investigation and not based on a political agenda.”

Riley did not immediately return a text message seeking comment.

Hubbard was later convicted on multiple ethics charges in a case largely led by Hart.

DONORS TO NONPROFIT

Bentley said he raised money for a nonprofit organization, called the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, which was created to promote his agenda.

He said donors to the group included Franklin Haney, a Tennessee businessman who purchased the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in north Alabama.

He did not disclose other donors or say how much Haney gave.

Collier’s attorney is trying to force the disclosure of other donors to the group, court filings show.

Tax forms filed with the IRS show that the organization raised $90,600 in 2015 and $32,500 in 2016.

Bentley resigned in April 2017.

BLAMES DOWNFALL ON SPECIAL INTERESTS

The former governor said “special interests” wanted rid of him in Montgomery, but he would not name them.

“I’m not going to name them, but there are special interests in Montgomery that never liked me, and they used much of this — they used Spencer, they used my family, they used a lot of people to get rid of me.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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