PERHAM, Minn. — Perham native Patrick Murphy graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., in December. He had more to celebrate than just his diploma, as he signed his first music publishing deal five days before graduation.

The 21-year-old country-pop singer-songwriter signed a contract with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville, allowing Sony/ATV to publish the songs he writes.

After agreeing to the deal, Murphy returned home to Perham to play a few shows as he visited for the Christmas holiday.

“I loved growing up here,” Murphy said, adding that people in Perham care about one another and want to help. It is this support of the town that has helped Murphy pursue music both in high school here and after he left for Nashville.

Murphy grew up in Perham, attending St. Henry’s and graduating from Perham High School in 2016. He started playing music at age 5 and, in 2010, at age 12, he won the county fair talent contest that sent him on to win the MN State Fair-County Fair Talent Contest, he said.

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"Music is really what I wanted to do and so I put all of my efforts into that," Murphy said, a pursuit that he is accomplishing with the support of his family, friends, hometown and network around him.

Patrick Murphy performed before 15,000 people on the main stage at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, where he won the County Finals talent contest. (Perham Focus file photo)
Patrick Murphy performed before 15,000 people on the main stage at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, where he won the County Finals talent contest. (Perham Focus file photo)

Because of his father’s dairy supply company, Murphy grew up around farms and in a small town. While attending school and networking in Nashville, Murphy found his Perham upbringing made him feel connected to country music and those who come from states more associated with the genre.

Though influenced by country artists such as Rascal Flatts and the Zac Brown Band, Murphy primarily is a pianist who loves rock musicians, even though the piano is not commonly a lead instrument in modern county music.

"I wanted to be like the Billy Joel or Elton John of country music," Murphy said. He said he wants to bring the fun and exciting aspects of the piano in with his music.

While in high school Murphy found support from the Perham Rotary, who he still feels supported by today. “It is a fun little turn around to see the impact on my career, and someday hopefully I’ll be able to return the favor back,” Murphy said. “And give it back to this community.”

While someday Murphy would like to be on the level of artists like Thomas Rhett, right now his goal is to tour with artists such as Granger Smith or Maren Morris. However, one of the big things that he wants to do is to play at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, hopefully, even headline it someday. “How cool it would be to play WE Fest coming from Perham,” Murphy said.

Patrick Murphy signs publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville. (Submitted photo)
Patrick Murphy signs publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville. (Submitted photo)

The Patrick Murphy file