There’s a saying that goes “the first time’s the hardest,” which seems to imply that after that, it’s smooth sailing. Well, that might be true for alot of things, but I didn’t feel that way after my editor gave me my next assignment. Talk about knobbly knees! I straight up did the James Brown — I broke ‘out in a cold sweat’!
Now mind you, I’m having a blast interviewing folks, but this is still new to me. This month’s interview was my first face to face. After much praying, and asking God, “Lord, can you hear me now?,” I endeavored to do my best! Aaaah….and the featured artist was so congenial and professional. Shoot, we even talked about the Pistons game! Robert E. Norwood, a local Detroit artist, is on the rise, y’all. Friendly, well-spoken, family man, and “GQ”, too. So, pull up your favorite chair and get acquainted with Grace Productions recording artist, Mr. Robert E. Norwood:
In the first few moments of speaking with Robert I immediately sensed that he came from a strong, familial background, which he confirmed:
RN:I was raised in the church. My dad pastored for many years and my mom was an educator who really taught a lot of core values about life, about what I needed to do to gain what I wanted in this life. I took hold of that. Now that I’m raising my own, I find myself going right back to those same roots.
Robert acknowledged that, at first, he didn’t know his path would lead him to music. He followed his parents’ advice to focus on his education at Jackson State University, on scholarship, which is where he reconnected with gospel music.
RN:I found gospel music very fulfilling. It was only after other people began to notice something about what I was doing that I began to think about it. It was never a pre-set plan.
DG: So here you are with a brand new, self-entitled CD. How did it come about?
RN: I was visiting family in Mississippi, two years ago, ran into a friend, Joe Whitfield (who produced this project). He told me about a company he thought I’d be perfect for. We toured the studios, came home, told my wife about it, and we prayed. In March 2003, we signed with Grace Records, which was just a red-letter day on behalf of what I believe God was doing.
Robert stressed that it’s truly God who directs your footsteps. Of course one can’t climb a mountain without encountering some rocks, so Robert discussed some of the trials he’s faced while on this musical journey.
RN: Well, I can definitely say when you trust in the arm of man, that will let you down. I had an incident in the mid-80’s while we were with JSU _Expression (ensemble that specialized in jazz, big band and Broadway music). We’d cut a single in Jackson, which was used at the 75th anniversary of the NAACP. We traveled to Kansas City to perform. We performed, went back to the hotel to find everything we had purchased gone, including the manager, administrative assistants….
At this point we’re all laughing because this seems to be a familiar story among artists!
….Here we were stranded in Kansas City, all we could do was look at each other and say, ‘What happened’?
He went on to say, too, how frustrating it is when an artist sends his product out and gets no response.
RN: I had to see those type of things happen. I had to know there would be pitfalls along the way, but if it’s truly something that’s inspired and birthed by God, it will come forward.
Robert graciously acknowledged that his project is being received very well and let us know how it could be obtained, and what he wanted people to get from it.
RN: Well, first I hope they buy it! We want them to get the project! (laughing) No, in all seriousness, we want them to take away that this was a project that was really birthed. I hope that they can take away from this that in their quiet time, to reflect on where they are in their lives, to know that there is God and He’s love. I speak a lot on that, and we did that for a reason. Companies are failing, there’s war and a lot of things are happening around us, but to know that God is love. That’s what this project is about.
We’re at God’s World Records. We’re also at Jazz & Jams, in Southfield and we’re also online at www.CDbaby.com. That’s basically the way we’ve been doing it, other than direct sales. It’s been a wonderful 90 days since the project has come out!
At this point, DG decided to have a little fun with Robert. We wanted to ‘flip the script’, if you will.
DG: Did you see the game last night? (Note: Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 4/26/04 -the Pistons did go on to win, 109 – 92 (?) )
Mary Crosby, Editor, is cracking up, and so is my good friend, Bernadine!
RN: (laughing) I saw most of the game….I saw half of the game, yes I did. Rasheed Wallace, my favorite…I really enjoy him…
DG: Now, what was this? ( I put my finger to my mouth, imitating Wallace) What was that about?
RN:…quieting the crowd, you know. He’s like, ‘hold on, we got somethin’ for ya! Wait….wait’ I hope Rasheed stays in Detroit. He’s got a 1-year contract as I understand, and I hope he stays here because the fans love him.
Robert believes the Detroit Pistons will take the Eastern Conference and go on to the NBA Finals. That’s cool with me. Let’s all get in agreement! We found out that Robert also enjoys water sports, especially diving. He likes hanging with his family, Dr. Earlexia Norwood (wife), Gabriel, 13, and Mikhaella, 10. (He noted that we can thank him for the interesting spelling of his daughter’s name. Very pretty name, I must say.)
So what does he think of Detroit Gospel.com?
RN: I was telling Mary when I first pulled the website up, that it was the first time I’d seen such a comprehensive website, based solely on local artists in Detroit. I thought it was magnificient. God has really answered a prayer.
Praise God! That’s the mission and our purpose! In closing, Robert wanted to, after a bit of hinting on our part, give some shout-outs to some folks…I thought he was gonna start with, ‘I wanna thank the Academy….’
RN:….shout-outs to Grace and the family (his record company); to Staffey Butler, a beautiful sister; to Harold Sullivan; very instrumental people I’ve known over the past few years. To my family, to my wife, everybody’s been wonderful…
Background: Robert currently lives in a suburb of Detroit with his beautiful wife, Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood and their two children, Gabriel and Mikhaella. Robert is a member of the Straight Gate International Church, under the leadership of Bishop Andrew & Pastor Viveca Merritt. He currently serves as leader of “The Timothy Ministry”, which is dedicated to the mentoring of young men. As a singer, he has traveled extensively throughout the world spreading the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. He firmly believes, and his life exemplifies, that “your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men.”
For more information on Robert Norwood you can go to Grace Productions’ website: www.gracellc.com.
Closing: Detroit Gospel.com had a good ‘ole time interviewing our featured artist! He thanked us, we thanked him and told him God’s gonna use his new CD to elevate his ministry, bless the body of Christ, and the world. He received that!
We urge you to support this brother and buy his CD. It will, truly, be a blessing to you!
Note From The Editor:
We truly thank Robert Norwood for his graciousness and willingness to share his ministry with Detroit Gospel.com. We also thank June for the wonderful interview and engaging write-up.