Rev. W.R. “Smokie” Norful, Jr. is an American gospel singer and pianist, best known for his 2002 album, I Need You Now and his 2004 release, Nothing Without You, which won a Grammy at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2004. Norful received his second Grammy in 2015 at the 57th Annual Grammy awards for his song “No Greater Love”, ten years after winning his first.
Pastor Smokie Norful spent the early portion of his life in Muskogee and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He later moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he attended Jack Robey Junior High and Pine Bluff High School. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also received formal training in ministry at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and Trinity International Seminary in Deerfield, Ill., where he studied to achieve a master’s of divinity. He served as a history teacher for seven years at Jack Robey Junior High School, Pine Bluff High School (Pine Bluff, Ark.) and Evanston Township High School (Evanston, Ill.) respectively. Additionally Rev. Norful served for two years as the educational director for the Pine Bluff Housing Authority’s after-school program. Other notable vocational experiences include, but are not limited to, his service as a historian for the National Park Service and a congressional aid for the fourth congressional district. He formerly served on the board of Regents for Trinity International University.
He was ordained an elder and has been a licensed preacher since 1997. Rev. Norful served as youth pastor, minister of music, and associate minister of St. John AME church in Pine Bluff, under the leadership of Rev. W.R. Norful Sr., and Teresa Norful until relocating to Chicago. He also has served internationally as worship leader for the connectional youth department of the AME church. In addition, he has served as an educator and workshop conductor for the Christian Education department of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., and has been a well-sought clinician and keynote speaker for many organizations, ministries, and civic groups. He was recently inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, along with many other notable people.
Currently he serves as pastor of the Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Bolingbrook, Ill. On September 20, 2005, Pastor Smokie Norful officially launched Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Bolingbrook, Ill. Since its launch, Pastor Norful and the Victory family have experienced an extraordinary and unprecedented growth in the community. In addition, on September 28, 2008, Pastor Norful launched a second campus on the south side of Chicago. Since its launch, they have witnessed a similar dynamic growth and a phenomenal move of God.