The Sooners and Cowboys improve positioning in Big 12 standings.
Only a few days before playing for the 2000 national championship, Josh Norman discovered his passion.
He had played football all his life. First as a kid in Midland, Texas. Then at Oklahoma where he was an integral part of Bob Stoops' early years. He would even spend a couple seasons in the NFL.
But when Norman went home to Texas during a break in titlegame prep, a friend let him perform, record and produce a song.
"And I fell in love," Norman said. "The first time that I got a taste of
it, I was like, 'Oh, yeah, this is what I want to do.'"
Football was his first love, but music was his life's work.
And he wants to help kids discover a passion for music, too.
Norman is headlining a concert Friday night that will benefit The Bridge Impact Youth Center. The outreach program on Oklahoma City’s northeast side wants to build a studio that becomes a learning lab for kids, giving them a chance to see if they have a heart for music and providing an opportunity that might change their life.
That’s what music did for Norman.
Even as he was growing up in football-crazy Texas, music had a place in Norman’s life. His grandmother’s piano always drew him like a magnet, and he would tinker on it every time he went to her house.
He was fascinated by the sounds, the combinations, everything.
Listening to music became not just a hobby but a study.
Norman would spend hours listening to music, dissecting the lyrics and analyzing the structure.
He wasn't listening like you listen when you clean the house or road trip to the in-laws'.
"I still have notebooks and notebooks full of songs that I transcribed," he said. "I wanted to know what the lyrics were saying. I wanted to see how they were writing the lyrics, how they were forming the songs."
Sometime in middle school, Norman started writing poetry, and when he went to OU and took some formal piano lessons, he began to marry the poetry and the music.
Then came that experience during the titleprep break.
From then on, Norman knew that he wanted to make music his life. Sure, he wanted to see how far he could go in football -- he played a hybrid role for the Sooners, catching and carrying the ball and even making a big blocked punt in that memorable OU-Nebraska game in 2000 -- but even football
became a conduit to power his passion for music.
His bonus money when he signed with the San Diego Chargers?
He used it to buy equipment for his budding interest in music production.
And when his pro days were done, Norman threw himself further into music. He adopted the name J.Lee The Producer. He immersed himself in the Christian music scene.
Last month, he release the album “Music Box.”
While looking at venues around Oklahoma City for an album release party, Norman found himself at The Auditorium at The Douglass. It is a historic site at the old Douglass High School on the city’s northeast side – and Norman couldn’t help thinking about his friend Marcus Jackson.
Known in the Christian music world as Kadence, Jackson founded The Bridge Impact Youth Center to overcome the gaps in an underserved community. It provides opportunities for education and pathways to employment.
Norman loves what
The Bridge is doing and asked if he could help. When Jackson mentioned that he’d always wanted to add a music studio to the youth center, Norman was in.
A benefit concert at The Auditorium at The Douglass was born.
"It’s just creating those opportunities and those open doors," Norman said. "If they get in it and they say, 'Nah, this is horrible,' let's go to the next thing.
"But I think as mentors for our youth, we have to be intentional about providing these opportunities."
Josh Norman knows he had a on-ramps to opportunity that lots of kids don’t have. He considers himself lucky. He considers himself blessed.
Friday night, he hopes to pay it forward by raising some money and paving some ways where none may even exist right now.
Josh Norman was a receiver on Oklahoma’s 2000 national championship team. Now, he’s a music producer and artist who wants kids to experience all that the music world has to offer.