Interview with Shea Norman

Shea Norman is living a dream. The talented musician and vocalist is known throughout his hometown of Memphis, and indeed, throughout the entire state of Tennessee. He was featured on Fred Hammond’s In Case You Missed It (And Then Some) album from 2001, but has now stepped out to release his stunning debut, My Heart Depends On You on F Hammond Music.

Shea Norman spoke with Gospelflava.com about his new release, about Fred Hammond, his love for God and more.

Shea NormanGospelflava.com: How did you hook up with Fred Hammond?

Shea Norman: Fred was on tour with Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Men of Standard. When they came to Memphis, another band was scheduled to do the after party. Something happened to them, and I ended up getting the call about an hour before the after party was supposed to start. At the time, I was in the wrong frame of mind because of circumstances revolving around some people. I obeyed the voice of God but I really didn’t want to do it. I went on down there. I didn’t have Fred in mind. I didn’t have anyone in mind. I was doing it as a favor for the person who called me to do it.

I ended up singing before my people could get there —they were running late. I ended up singing and Fred came in. He had some of his people to go get me, and I got some of my guys. We went upstairs and talked, and we went from there.

Gospelflava.com: You did a wonderful rendition of “Tis So Sweet”. Tell us why you wanted to record that song?

Shea Norman: That hymn has always been a part of my background coming up in church. When Fred did it when he was with Commissioned, it really touched my heart, and it made me pay more attention to it. Years later, I paid even more attention to the song as I started developing in God, and learning more about faith and trusting in Him. I came across the hymn again when I started playing for a Seventh Day Adventist church, since they would sing it all the time. I really started fashioning it and performing it. I actually have six different versions of it, even a classical version of it with an orchestra. That one is my favorite.

Listening to Shea Norman
CD CD Click on the album covers above to link to reviews.

"'Tis So Sweet" is really just a simple worship song that I do in my private time with God. Alex Ward [who produced the song] asked me, “If you could do a hymn, what would you do?” I asked, “you mean from me to my Father?” He said, “Yeah.” So I let him hear “Tis So Sweet”. He recorded it, and that’s how it came about.

Gospelflava.com: Quartet music is on the rise and you showed your love for quartet music on “Fell In Love With Jesus”. How did you and Fred Hammond come up with that song?

Shea Norman: Well, it all started with the first song on the album, “More and More to Me”. I told him that I wanted to do something with sort of a Stevie Wonder feel to it, so we started with the idea of that. Well, Fred was on the bass, and I was on the keys, and we were throwing musical ideas at each other. We had talked about doing a quartet song before. He said, "What if we came out of that ("More and More to Me") and went into a quartet song?" So he played for me the idea that he had, and I was like, “Yeah dude.” So we came up with that particular song, “Fell in Love with Jesus”. It blessed us both.

We were acting a nut in the studio. I had a tremendous time. It was tiring, but ultimately we had an awesome time talking with each other, sharing with each other and learning from each other. This is not me putting on my business face. I spent most of the time learning from him because he is a legend. He is a producer. The things that you hear on CD doesn’t even come close to what you would hear when you are in a session with Fred. He has to go through 15 or 16 different things. When you're listening to him, you're saying, “That was good.” When you think he can’t get any better, he comes out with something else. And you're like, “Man!” and he’ll say, “Naw, that ain't it.” I was blessed by the whole experience and basically that's how that song came about.

Gospelflava.com: Who are you trying to reach with this release?

Shea Norman: You know, traditionally we have always been taught to remain humble. Almost to make ourselves meek and lowly. I've been developing in the Word —and I have a true man and woman of God [as pastors] —I am not talking about anyone else, I’m talking about me, and where I am going. They are teaching me, why pray to Shea Normantouch just one or two people? Why not claim everyone that you are supposed to reach, and thank God for everyone that you are supposed to reach. Everyone outside that, thank God that they will be touched by what they hear. So I am standing in the gap for everyone that hears this CD.

Fred asked me, “What’s on your heart? What direction do you want to go?” I told him that I am tired of hearing how God can and He will, but we never see it. I’m tired of hearing about how the saints are always going through. They say things like, “Ya’ll pray for me. Maybe one day, I’ll come out of it.” I believe that people want the solution to a problem. I believe that people want to know how do they come out. We have been singing about how we are going through. Ok, now I am ready for my victory. This whole CD is always talking about trusting in God, your heart depending on Him, how much He means to you. It also talks about how you fell in love with Him, and to keep that in your memory.

So when you are going through, go back into the past times when He brought you out of other situations. If He did it then, He’s faithful just to do it again. The CD is very directional. It’s pointing you to being joyful, not just being happiness. That’s a whole ‘nother story. It’s about staying in your place of rejoicing, and knowing that God is going to bring you through. An expected end is coming, and while you are in your victory lane, just keep praising Him. It’s about reaching everyone that the CD is supposed to reach. That includes sinners as well as saints.

Gospelflava.com: You worked with Alex Ward on a few songs. Tell us about that experience and the song “Deliverance Will Come”.

Shea Norman: One thing about Fred and Alex is that they know how to get the deeper things out of you. I guess that’s why they are producers. They see the things that other people don’t see. Alex is a singer in his own right. And he's also just a wonderful person. He knows how to pull the best out of people. Now we are good friends. I draw on the gifts that God has put in him, not just from a music standpoint but from a business, producer and leadership standpoint. He has it all.

Shea NormanActually his wife was singing “Deliverance Will Come” in the same key when he let me hear it. I said, “Man, I’m going to trust you and we are going to see what we come up with.” If you rely on that trust principle, it will bring you through a lot of things. You’ll find out that you can do things that you didn’t imagine you could do. Alex saw those things, and I trusted in God in him, and we got “Deliverance Will Come”. I’m very blessed and honored to have sung that song.

Gospelflava.com: Who are your main musical influences?

Shea Norman: I guess the earliest one was Stevie Wonder. He started me to singing. He just impressed me. Then I started listening to Rev. James Moore. Back then my range was high, so I was singing the same songs that he was singing. Then later on, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Daryl Coley came into play. That’s when I started doing runs and being able to do certain vocal techniques. Then over the years, I started listening to different people. Of course Fred Hammond. Not just because he is my producer or because "I have to say it". Fred has been a huge influence in my life since his Commissioned days. I was a loyal Commissioned fan. I just followed on down the years and just listened to him. John P Kee, Yolanda Adams and Shirley Caesar. I love Shirley Caesar.

Gospelflava.com: What is your favorite song on the album?

Shea Norman: Woo, that’s hard because I love every song. From a worship standpoint, I would say “God of Love”. From a submission state of obedience, it would be, “Use Me Lord”. If he wants to set me up for what He is about to do through me or impart in me, “Use Me Lord”. Each song has a place in my heart. If I had to say which is my favorite song, I would have to say every song.

The future is bright for the multi-talented Shea Norman. He sure has his focus on doing the will of God and reaching people through his music. Continue to support, watch out for and pray for Shea Norman. Rest assured, his heart depends on God.

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interview by Dwayne Lacy

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