George was born into a family of singers in New Orleans, Louisiana. George grew up in public housing in a city where jazz music was birthed (Iberville, once known as Storyville), but his musical influences were Stevie Wonder and gospel music. His parents divorced when he was an infant, leaving his mother to raise him and 3 siblings on her own. The housing project he lived in was within earshot of New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. An older cousin became his father figure who took George from church to church and provided him with a positive male role model.
His first solo was at age 5 and he sang in assemblies in elementary school. Then at the age of 13, George joined a church choir. The choir took him to churches throughout Louisiana, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and even Norway. His choir director once said that George “rocked the gospel tent.” In high school, George won a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma and spent three years studying to become a teacher. However, he ran out of money and dropped his course load to work so he could afford to continue his studies. George took a job as a cook at the university’s cafeteria and formed a gospel choir so he could keep singing. A friend suggested that George audition for “American Idol” so he went to Houston for his first audition. The judges were impressed with George and he was on his way to Hollywood. He failed to make the semi-finals when the pool of contestants was trimmed to 32, but then he was called back after one contestant was dropped from the show.
STILL A WINNER
George endured a rigorous schedule of interviews and crash-course song rehearsals. George, who suffers from asthma, developed vocal problems that caused his voice to strain during the heavy workout, but he still wowed audiences with his great soul voice and amazing performances. George was the last man standing as one of five final contestants. (Fantasia Barrino was this year’s winner.) Unfortunately, after he performed “Cheek to Cheek,” George was eliminated from the contest. After the whirlwind 50-city American Idol tour, George found himself with 4 offers from different major record companies.
He believes that you can’t get very far by hitting anyone over the head with the message of faith. “I want my albums and accomplishments to be entertaining and engaging,” says George. If I just live my life the way God calls us to, and people see that consistently, then at some point they might start hearing the music in new ways and on different levels. That’s when they’re ready to really go deeper,” he says.
His first full album, Miracles, is really a snapshot of his life. “My life is based on nothing but miracles,” says George. “When there were times we didn’t know where our next meal would come from, God always made a way.” With his career in full swing, George sings at mostly secular venues but is able to share his faith boldly. Many people come to him crying. “They just start opening up and sharing about their lives,” says George. “Many times, I have the opportunity to pray with them. Other times, I just encourage them and let them know they aren’t alone.”
George says while Hurricane Katrina devastated his family’s belongings and floodwaters destroyed everything they had in storage they still have each other and their memories. His hope is that his hometown will eventually be rebuilt. “I believe God is shaking things up everywhere,” says George. “Many churches in New Orleans don’t have buildings anymore because of the hurricane. I believe He is calling the Church out [of the four walls]. What do we really have now that we are out of our comfort zones? I believe we have to press on to the mark,” he says.