|This biographical article relies too much on references to primary sources. (June 2011)|
||This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (June 2011)|
|Birth name||William Ray Norwood|
|Born||November 30, 1955|
|Origin||Greenwood, Mississippi, USA|
|Genres||Gospel, Soul, R&B|
|Occupation(s)||singer, songwriter, record producer, vocal assistance, choir|
Knockout Gospel (2005–present)
|Associated acts||Brandy, Ray J, Billy Preston,|
William Ray "Willie" Norwood Sr. (born November 30, 1955) is an American Gospel singer and has been involved in singing since early childhood. His father and mother sang in the church choir. He is the father and voice coach of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J.
1975–1992: Early Career
Willie Norwood's career in the music industry began at Jackson State University on a band scholarship during the 1970s where he joined a soul music group named "The Composers", becoming their lead vocalist and trumpeter. The group found a modicum of success playing the Mississippi club scene and began opening up for acts such as Rufus and Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls. Norwood soon moved to Hollywood with the group where they attracted a loyal following.
The fast paced-Hollywood scene caused Norwood to stray from his religious upbringing, causing him and his wife, Sonja Bates-Norwood, to move back to McComb, Mississippi, in the late '70s to begin a family as well as to regain focus. Eventually, California would once again play an important role musically for Willie Norwood and family. He began working with local community choirs in Los Angeles while beginning post-graduate work at California State University. Norwood's work with the choirs afforded a young Brandy and Ray J the opportunity enhance their blooming musical interest.
2001–2004: Commercial debut
After putting together Brandy's Never-Say-Never World Tour, his first commercial album, "Bout it" was released in late 2001 under Atlantic Records and received a Dove Award nomination. Brandy was featured on the album as well. "Bout It" managed to peak at Number 13 on the Billboard Gospel Chart. In his album he worked with artists like Kirk Whalum, Billy Preston, The William Brothers, Brandy, Ray J and Angie Winans.
Brandy and Ray J appeared as background vocals on "Bout It". Whalum played saxophone and Preston sang on I’ll Trade A Lifetime" and "Bout It". The Williams Brothers, who wrote and produced the title track and "The Search Is Over," also provided background vocals. "A Love Shared" was written by Angie Winans.
Norwood started working with Ray J and Brandy in the studio for their upcoming albums. He split with Atlantic Records in 2002.
2005–2007: New label and new album
"I Believe" is the second CD presented by Willie Norwood and was released under new label Knockout Entertainment. It is a definitive and eclectic blend of a cappella southern gospel songs.
Norwood set up the KnockOut Vocal Studio in North Hollywood, CA and brought his southern charm to a 12-song a cappella gospel interpretation of "old church" songs. Three of the songs can be heard on his Myspace site: "I Know It Was the Blood", "I Believe" and "Amazing Grace". It is the first album to be released by Knockout Entertainment only.
After the release has he focused on the work as director to the group UCC, a 94-voice youth choir in South Central L.A. and minister of music at the Woodland Hills Church of Christ. He is currently working with the artists Chyra and Tha Way Out, who have yet to release material.