Rev. W.R. “Smokie” Norful, Jr. is an American 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
Norful, a minister who is also the son of an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas but grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, deeply involved in his father’s church. He was interested in music from a very young age, reportedly picking out one-finger piano melodies from the age of four. His parents supported him with music lessons, and, unusual for his background, allowed him to experiment with and listen to the current R&B and soul music of the day as well as gospel music. Norful attended Pine Bluff High School, where he occasionally performed in school assemblies and programs. Norful graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as a History major and spent four years teaching high school.
In 1998 he felt a calling to the ministry of the gospel, and pursued a Master of Divinity degree at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. While working toward ordination in the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) church, he took a position as assistant pastor at a church in Chicago. He currently pastors Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Romeoville, IL, which he founded on September 20, 2005.
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. Main Source: FromWikipedia, the free encyclopedia.