Answering The Call
“The measure of a man is not how well he does during his good time when things are doing well, but how he handles himself during times of adversity.”
It was right after his tour in the navy that he became addicted to alcohol and drugs… After some odd years, Minister Michael Norman finally became tired of the substance abuse. He declared that once he got his life back on track, he would service others in need.
In 1997, the Charlotte, NC native went to a men’s shelter, and slept on the floor as part of the steps to his recovery. “I stayed in the Shelter for about two-weeks—that was a very trying situation for me,” he said.
From that point onward, the events in Norman’s life became life altering. He moved into Hope Haven
Substance Free Recovery Facility, and then joined Nations Ford Community Church, while working with the youth ministry. Although, a gradual and steady process, ultimately, Norman attended the Queen City Bible College.
Norman became an ordained minister in 2011, under the leadership of Bishop Charles R. Walters. After working as an electrician for about four-years, he started his own business, “International Electrical Solutions Inc.
Not wandering from his spiritual reform, Norman joined the Voices of Hope Recovery Choir, and played the drums. It was during those persuasive times that he began to walk coherently in his purpose—Norman not only played music, he began to create his own genre of tunes called “Spoken Gospel Rap.”
His pieces of music are highly inspirational and reminiscent to Detrick Haden, but his lyrics are triggering annotations of poetry.
Norman released a couple singles, “Peace Be Still,” featuring Jene Spears, and “Testify,” sometime last year. He also sampled the 1998 rock song, “American Woman.” The track features another phenomenal artist from the QC by the name of 3 (Young SDub). The two artist talk about the betrayal of America and her people.
Norman plans to release the attention grabbing project later this.
How did you get into the musical aspect of ministry?
I’ve always been into music. I grew up in a musical family. I have 5 brothers and sisters. My dad sent us to music school because he wanted us to have a gospel quintet, but we had other things in mind. I liked funk and my younger brother liked funk, however, we started out playing jazz, and Duke Ellington stuff.
Me and my brother started doing more funk like the Parliament and Rick James, so we started doing that and playing at different talent shows—they made me the drummer. I wanted to be the piano player, but I got stuck with the drums. My little brother played lead guitar, and my brother above me, played base.
My eldest brother played the keyboard, while my sisters sang. We kind of went our separate ways. I started getting more into rap music while in college. I listened to the Sugar Hill Gang, and it seemed boring, but when Kool Moe D, and Public Enemy got on the scene, I got more into the lyrics, and it took me onto a journey.
Then, I started writing music. I started writing at a very young age. I was still the drummer, so I had to stay in my seat and try to rap at the same time. That didn’t work. Wow, the drum machine came out and that allowed me to write music, speak poetry, and let the drum machine play while I get on the microphone to do poetry or rap.
I hooked up with a group and we went to Atlanta and tried to seal a contract, but everything went wrong. Each time we tried to sign a contract, it went wrong and it just didn’t work. I started venturing out on my own, came to Charlotte and started writing music, going to different churches, and working at the youth concerts. I like rap, but I’m not a rapper. I call my genre of what I do, “Spoken Word.” I love the spoken word piece and the rap piece—I mixed the two together and came up with “Spoken Rap.”
You recently did the rendition of “American Woman,” with hip-hop artist, 3(Young SDub). How did that project come about?
That’s still on the cutting board(Laughter)… We can talk about it. 3(Young SDub) was on “Testify” with Nikki Canada, and a rapper named 7. Timothy “KrazyFigs” Walls, produced the single. He said that he had an artist that would sound good on the track, and I said, “Well, bring him in,” and that’s when I got introduced to 3(Young SDub).
“American Woman” hit me because I started seeing a lot of stuff that’s going on in America and I study the word of God very deeply. I go into a lot of books that’s been missing out of the bible and I study revelations a lot. When I was in college, I wrote a paper, “The Book of Revelations.” I started looking at the book, and saw what was going on in America, and I looked at what was still happening to our people, up under this leadership of America.
(Revelations 12 and 17).
How did you come up with the concepts for “Testify” and “Peace Be Still?”
I used to go to a church off Central Avenue, under the guidance of Pastor Roberts. They did really high praise. The praise was awesome. We would praise for forty-five-minutes, and during the time that we were praising, Pastor Roberts would get up and say, “Now, testify with your feet.” That would pick my spirits up. I used to love when he said that. I remember after service one day, I went up to him and I said, “I just love when you say, testify with your feet.” I said, “Can I write a song, testify with your feet?” He grabbed my hand and said, “As long as you keep God in it.”
I started working on “Testify with Your Feet.” I worked with Nikki Canada, and she loved the concept. We laid the track, and then took it to John P Kee’s church.
Do you write and produce all of your music?
I write and I just recently started working with Tim Walls. He’s a very good producer. He produced a lot of my stuff. What I do is write the concept as it comes to me, and I take it to him, and he’ll say, “What you got, what you got?” Then, he’ll add his twist and style to it, mixed with what I’m telling him. That’s why I love working with him. He’ll ask what I’m feeling, and we’ll lay the music. I’ve worked with Jene Spears. I love working with her. I worked with her on “Peace Be Still.” I worked with Nikki Canada. I’m always looking for a pilot that can speak into the atmosphere, the words of the most-high God. I love working with different artist.
How does the spoken rap blend in with the church and what they are accustomed with?
Well, when we do “Testify with Your Feet,” I always do an introduction because it’s in the praise zone. “Testify with Your Feet” is in the praise zone, and it does very well in the church. It’s just a dimension you get into. I tell them that if you were to take your testimony out of your mouth and close your eyes and think about all that the most-high God has done for you throughout your whole life—all that you have been through and all that He has done for you, take it out of your mouth and put it into your feet. What kind of dance would you have? I tell them that and we go into the song. People understand that when I get into my zone, I just close my eyes and I think about what the most-high God has done for me, and I let it rip.
That’s what the praise is all about—the words says come into the presence of the most-high with a praise. Your feet are moving by the holy spirit, and souls are leaping for joy.
Let’s talk about your outreach ministry.
We go to different locations in Charlotte, NC. We setup tables with free clothes, food, and guest speakers come out. We read the word of God over the microphone. People come up and want us to pray for them—so we pray with them, read the word, and listen to music. People come up and give testimonies. We just let the spirit flow. It’s been a while since we’ve been out, but I’m going to get back into it, because I’ve been working on many projects as of lately.
I’ve done some outreaches with John Dorsey. I love working with him. He has a lot of outreaches, where we go and connect with different churches, but my ministry is that I have to be out in the streets because I came from the streets. I lost a lot of years messing around in the streets. If someone would’ve came and gave me with the word, I probably wouldn’t have wasted so many years in the streets.
Did you find yourself out with all that was going on in Charlotte a couple weekends ago?
Yes, I was out in a different way. I was out on Beatties Ford Rd (Beatties Ford Vocational Group). We are working on a solution. Sometimes it’s necessary to squeak that wheel so that they can pay attention, but it’s time to go to a different level. I applaud them for what they are doing, but it’s getting to a point where it’s getting desensitized by these oppressors. It’s getting desensitized to same thing and it’s going down. We visit the city council, we go and protest, and they say, “Yes.” Three months later, things are calm until the next shooting happens. The communities are still going down. The failure rate is going up and our brothers are going through a revolving door of prison. Nothing has changed.
Do you respond more to the youth, or is it diverse?
Its diverse. When the most-high puts an assignment in my path, I try to deal with it as it comes. When you’re on this journey, you can’t box yourself in with a particular race, or a particular age. You have to go with the assignment that’s given to you from that day, and from the old, to the young, and the middle class, that’s my assignment.
Who would you like to share the stage with, if that’s something that you choose to do?
I minister because I know what He’s doing with this journey. I would enjoy sharing the stage with 3(SDub), because I know his journey and I know what he’s been through.
Style is important when promoting music. Is style different for you, or were you really dressing for a photo shoot?
I grew up with five sisters and they used to dress me. I like different styles, I really do. Fashion appeals to me. The jacket that I’m wearing, I met the guy at CPCC (Central Piedmont Community College), where the artist meets music. I saw one of his jackets and I loved it. He made one for me.
You can find music from Minister Michael Norman on iTunes, Amazon, and Reverbnation
For Interviews Contact: Tangi Watts/ firstname.lastname@example.org