Multiple award-winning artist Smokie Norful will release SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE, his fourth CD offering with DVD released simultaneously in stores on April 7, 2009. Recorded live at The Cannon Center in Memphis, the 10-track project delivers both musically as well as visually. With this EMI Gospel release, Norful will once again display his talents as a prolific songwriter who can deliver relevant songs that speak grace, hope and truth to a public that is in need of these qualities during today’s trying times. Produced by Norful and Jason Tyson, SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE is infused with an energy that only an enthusiastic sold out audience can bring.
The audience’s fervor can be heard throughout the CD and also viewed on an accompanying DVD. Lending their support to Norful on ‘SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE’ are guest performances by Tony Award® winning artist, Heather Headley and Stellar Award winner Tye Tribbett. The first single from SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE “Justified” impacts gospel radio on February 23, 2009.
One of the highlighted tracks featured on SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE is “Jesus Is Love.” Norful teams up with Headley to re-record the gospel classic written and produced by Lionel Richie, showcasing the incredible vocal talents of both artists. “Jesus Is Love” is featured on both Norful and Headley’s CDs. The song is garnering national attention from Gospel and Urban AC programmers alike. “My colleagues and I agree,” says Alvin Stowe, Program Director of WQMZ-FM and WPZS-FM in Charlotte, NC; “this rendition of ‘Jesus Is Love’ is as good, if not better than the original.“
She’s a sweetheart. I love her spirit and her personality,” comments Norful on working with the former Broadway star. “Since I’ve been in this industry, of all the people I’ve worked with, Heather was the first person to ever send me a personal, handwritten thank-you card.”
SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE also showcases Norful’s flair for writing songs that cover a wide range of themes—each one speaking to someone’s need. Beginning with the opening proclamation, “God’s Gonna Do It,” featuring Tye Tribbett, to “Dear God,” a personal letter from Norful to the Lord. The first single, “Justified,” is a relevant and irresistible hit song that not only jump starts the project, but will make the listener stand up and shout.
“Where I thrive and flourish the most is in a live environment,” comments Norful on why he decided to record a live album. “I’m really just a church kid. I have other components to add to the flavoring, but the bottom line is, I’m just a church kid who loves gospel music, loves God, and loves the Word of God. Where I have a natural tendency to excel is in a live setting. It’s just a comfort zone that I’ve fallen into. I’m giving people some Sunday-morning material.”
The recording offers listeners a glimpse of Norful’s role as Senior Pastor of Victory Cathedral Worship Center-one of the fastest growing churches in the western suburban community of Bolingbrook/Romeoville, Illinois (outside Chicago) with an inner-city Chicago campus that is growing equally as fast. The multi-talented man of God is an ordained minister who started the church in the fall of 2005 and has seen a continuous increase in worshipers since its humble beginnings — now amassing a membership of over 6,000 and still growing. Referring to the live recording Norful states, “If you catch me on Sunday morning, I sound just like this. I take great confidence in this because I encourage people that this is the best way: I don’t have a Sunday-morning me and then a concert-night me. It’s all the same person. I dress the same. I sing the same. I preach the same—the Word that you get in between songs is the same you get at church.”
SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE is a “family affair” of sorts with many of the participants coming from Norful’s church family. Several of the band musicians playing on the recording were from Norful’s church; Jason Tyson, co-producer and musical director for the project also serves as Norful’s musical director on the road and is the minister of music at the church. Tyson, considered a “little brother” and a friend by Norful, is additionally a business partner in their production company, One Wordd Productions. Tim Bailey, Assistant Pastor at Victory Cathedral Worship Center, also joined in on working on the project, co-writing some of the songs along with Norful. Singers Keisha McFarland, Denise Rutledge, Moiro Konchellah and Tiffany Gatlin are also key parts of the music ministry of Victory Cathedral Worship Center.
Norful will begin the New Year with a performance at the American Music Legends Inaugural Ball on January 20 in Washington, DC, followed by a debut performance of “Jesus Is Love” on BET’s 9th Annual Celebration of Gospel, premiering on January 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. During the highly-anticipated gospel program, hosted by Steve Harvey, Norful is joined on stage by Headley for a dynamic rendition of “Jesus Is Love.” Additional promotional activities will follow including performances on TBN, The Gospel Music Channel, a dedicated YouTube.com channel (to include audio and video teasers), online listening parties and streams, and a world premiere of the “Justified” video on Gospel City.
Smokie Norful—husband, father, pastor and recording artist—continues to solidify his place in today’s continually changing gospel music landscape with the release of SMOKIE NORFUL LIVE. We all can learn a life lesson during today’s challenging times from how Norful prophetically describes his own circumstance. “If I start to look at the condition of the circumstances—how busy I am and how much I have on my plate—that’s when I will start to sink. But I don’t look at it. I continue to do what God has called me to do and trust that He’s going to give me strength and provision to be able to accomplish it.”