Smokie Norful

Rev. W.R. “Smokie” Norful, Jr. is a gospel singer and pianist, best known for his 2002 album, I Need You Now and his 2004 release, Nothing Without You, which won a Grammy at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2004.

Recording career

He participated in an album release by the Thompson Community Choir, a well-known gospel group, and contributed a song as well as solo vocals. He was then offered the opportunity to make a solo album for EMI Gospel, I Need You Now. The album was a slow starter but eventually went gold, spending two years in the upper reaches of the Billboard Gospel Charts.

He was nominated for and won a Grammy in 2005 for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. He is also signed to EMI-CMG Publishing and his own Norful Music Publishing as a songwriter. He performed on June 6, 2005, for President George W. Bush in a concert honoring Black Music Month.

Norful’s music is best described as a fusion of gospel, 70′s soul, and contemporary R&B; the influences of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and other male soul/R&B vocalists of the 70′s and 80′s are clear.

On October 3rd, 2006, Norful released his 3rd album, Life Changing.

He is a featured guest artist along with Fred Hammond and J Moss on the ballad ‘Cover Me’ by the Gospel R&B trio 21:03. The song appears on Total Attention, the Sophomore album of 21:03, which was released July 22nd, 2008.

Smokie released his first live album on April 7, 2009. It is entitled “Smokie Norful Live” and features the singles “Justified,” “Jesus is Love” featuring Heather Headley, and “God’s Gonna Come Through” featuring Tye Tribbett. The “Smokie Norful Live” DVD will be released in September of the same year.

Personal life

Norful describes his first single, “I Need You Now”…

“I wrote that at a time when my wife [who was told she may have cancer and wouldn't be able to conceive], my father [who had just had emergency heart-surgery] and my grandmother were all dealing with some serious medical issues, and I was seriously reaching out to God for comfort and guidance and healing. I was crying out to God and realizing my total dependence on Him, and ultimate victory through Him.”

Norful and his wife, Carla, are the parents to two boys, Tre’ and Ashton, and a daughter named Ashley.

Discography

Albums

  • I Need You Now (Chordant Music Group, 2002)
  • I Need You Now Limited Edition (EMI, 2003)
  • Nothing Without You(EMI, 2004)
  • Nothing Without You Special Edition CD+DVD (EMI, 2005)
  • Life Changing (EMI, 2006)
  • Smokie Norful: Live (EMI, 2009)

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