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How gospel artist Smokie Norful continues being a father-coach to his children

Smokie Norful’s sons are the reason he came back to make music, but he’s also proud of the things he’s taught them in life

Gospel artist Smokie Norful thought he was done making music 10 years ago — then his sons had the urge to make a record with him. After his hit song “I Need You Now,” Norful is back with “I Still Have You,” showing that God has never left his side. Outside of the music, Norful prides himself on being a great father, and he’s taught his children many things throughout life.

How would you say you led your kids through their musical journey?

It is the joy of my life. I love music; music has always been a part of my life and part of who I am. I’ve been doing it since I was four or five years old. I will always be passionate about music; I will always love music, but the industry side was something that I had pulled back from. Not because I didn’t appreciate all that God has allowed me to experience in the season; I appreciate every single moment and I don’t take it for granted. It is definitely the grace of God, but my passion in this season for even doing what I’m doing now is because my sons are able to watch me and [are] able to participate with me this time.

Twenty years ago, they were little infants and not here. This time, I get to actually walk through and model for them the favor of God and how to handle it. They are already super-smart, articulate, and highly favored, but I want to show them how to be in the spotlight because they’re going to have the spotlight. They are writers, producers and musicians, and they’re working with some of the biggest names in R&B, hip-hop and gospel. They’re going to have the spotlight, and I want to make sure that they carry it with grace, with dignity and with humility — and … how to do that.

How did you become a father-coach for your children when it came to music?

I play several instruments and had every instrument in the world in the house, but I never pushed them to play one. I had stuff in the house I didn’t even play. Even when they would beg me to teach them, I would say no because they would hate it. Because if I do it, I’m always going to be dad. So, it wouldn’t be, like, “Oh no, do that again,” it would be “Aye, boy. Get that right.” I didn’t want them to hate it, so we got them piano and guitar lessons. Everything that they wanted to learn how to do we made sure they had access to learn how to do it, but we never forced it on them. My wife even advocated in the opposite direction.

My sons were huge in basketball. They were both point guards. They were starting point guards and team captains all the way up to high school and AAU travel ball. My wife would tell them they can’t major in basketball. There’s no basketball major — and it was the same thing with music. I didn’t major in music; I majored in history. I have a history degree, so it wasn’t about music. Music was my passion. It is my purpose. It is my love, but I majored in other things. So, we’ve done the same thing with them. My oldest son is a finance major. My daughter is a business administration major. My youngest son is a finance major. My oldest son [is] working on his MBA and about to get a Juris Doctor.

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