Taking his time, Smokie Norful now can say that he's enjoying his musical journey. Chicago's own Pastor Smokie Norful released his new album "Forever Yours" recently. To some it may seem that it has been a long time coming, however to Smokie Norful it's right on time. In an interview Tuesday, Aug. 12, Smokie Norful discusses his process and the impact of Gospel music in the music industry today.
Five years and over 30 songs later, Motown Gospel artist Smokie Norful has learned to take joy in his journey. His earlier days were filled with the hustle and bustle of establishing his career. As some new artists may dislike the term “paying your dues”, nonetheless the terminology is befitting to Smokie. Laying the foundation to a bright successful future takes a strategical plan.
After the success of Norful's first single “I Need You Now” released in 2002, he could have sat on his laurels and became a “one hit wonder”, however he saw the widespread reach of his music. Even before that single, in 2000, Smokie performed lead vocals on The Tommies' “He's All I Need” on their album “Real”. Some may have not known that tidbit, however Smokie's vocals were a hidden secret on the Chicago Gospel music scene. He's no secret now and the eclectic blend of styles on his new project continues to showcase the maturity and musicality we have all become to love.
Smokie expressed, “I was working so hard and I didn't get to enjoy the process... It took me five years to finish this project. I literally worked on this...I recorded over 30 songs in five years. I worked with all the people I just dreamed about working with or that I've gone back to... It was really a blessing to do so. I didn't feel the pressure. I didn't feel rushed.”
When the process is rushed, whether it's because of external influences or the inner feeling of having to be relevant, the damage to your brand could be irreversible. Smokie choosing to deliberately “smell the roses” during the creative process of his new music, speaks to a well-seasoned artists. Quality trumps quantity any day.
Smokie also spoke on the current climate of the Gospel music industry. “We as christians, as believers and those who are even fans of this genre of music, or that may not even embraced the message yet...but we have to buy CDs. In general it's because we do not buy the music. We feel like if we get it on Sunday morning or this person over here at my church can sing that same song...or if it's the Gospel, it should be free or discounted... We ultimately just do not, as a community, support our own genre. And the bad thing is we support other genres. It bothers me that we are not supportive of our own music... It's a life giving, life changing music.
The indictment is upon us as a community. The church is an absolutely amazing consumer base entity... Even Fortune 500 [companies] recognizes...this is a major consumer base... We don't believe in our own product because we don't buy the music. At the core of it is, our goal is not sales...our goal is souls. The more sales is just indicative of how many souls I'm able to impact in a positive godly way with this music. That to me is the reason we, as a community, need to begin to illustrate our strength.”
Over the years, Smokie Norful's music has atested to the lives he has touched with over 3 million albums sold, which is unheard of for the Gospel music industry. Being a grateful steward over his gift, Smokie's new project “Forever Yours” cultivates the sum of his career from beginning to now. Download Smokie Norful's new music on iTunes or purchase a physical copy at your local music outlet today.