It's easy to love George Strait for his music. But what we admire most is the character he shows off-stage. His devotion to God and family has kept him grounded through fortune and fame. But what's even more inspiring is that, with faith, country star George Strait overcame tragedy that could have easily ended his career.
Credit: Facebook / George Strait
George Strait learned to love God at a young age. Unfortunately, he learned heartache early on as well.
Born in Texas, George's mom took off when he was in the third grade. She took his sister with her, but left George and his brother behind with their dad. That's when his dad taught him to rely on God, no matter what.
"My dad, of course, raised my brother and me on his own, and he raised us in a real religious atmosphere," he said. "We're all Baptists, and he always told me that the Lord would tell me what He wanted me to do with my life; and I kind of believe that's really true. So I didn't worry about it much, didn't think about it that much."
By high school, George was in love. He and his high school sweetheart, Norma, ran off to Mexico in 1971 and eloped. After that, George served his country, enlisting in the Army. Stationed in Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, Norma gave birth to their daughter, Jenifer!
While serving, George also performed with the Army band, "Rambling Country." After leaving the army with an honorable discharge, George enrolled at Texas State University in San Marcos. It was there that God led him to his true calling -- music.
Making A Name
One day, George came across a flyer announcing a country music band "Stoney Ridge" was looking for a new lead vocalist. He decided to audition and landed the gig. The band traveled all over Texas, but major music labels kept turning George down.
Disheartened, George was about ready to give up on music all together. But Norma insisted he give it one more year. A few months later, George landed a contract with MCA Records in 1981. It was the break he'd prayed for, and the start of his epic country music career.
Everything was going great. George was having much success in his career. By now, Jenifer was 13, and the couple also had a young son -- George Jr., who was affectionately called "Bubba." But the good times came crashing to a halt when a car accident took Jenifer's life too soon.
Credit: Strait Fever
The teen was riding with some friends in a Ford Mustang when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Unfortunately, Jenifer was not wearing a seatbelt. She was tossed from the car and was the accident's only fatality.
Losing Jenifer was a heartbreaking blow to George and his family. They kept quiet about their grief, releasing no personal statements. George threw himself into his work, but Jenifer's death become a topic everyone knew to avoid in interviews.
George's career continued to flourish, but it was nearly 21 years before the s"King of Country" addressed his daughter's death publicly. He did so with the beautiful song, "You'll Be There." And it showed how country star George Strait overcame tragedy by relying on his faith.
"That song hit home for me for obvious reasons. I'm a religious person. I honestly believe we will see each other in heaven someday," he said.
LISTEN: George Strait's tribute to Jenifer -- "You'll Be There"
The loss of their daughter could have easily torn Norma and George apart. It could have ended George's career. But none of that happened. Because of faith in God's promises, country star George Strait overcame tragedy and continued to flourish.
Though his long career has brought with it much fame and success, faith has kept this cowboy grounded. It's allowed him to separate what's real happiness, and what's only temporary.
"We've learned to cope with the fact that the George Strait on stage is an image. And the one at home with my wife and Bubba is a family-loving man. You've got to keep the stage world and your real world separated or you're headed for trouble," George explained. "In other words, you can't live out the songs you sing."
And George and Norma's romance has done more than survive the stresses of fame and of personal tragedy, it's grown stronger.
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After 45 years of marriage, Norma is still George's biggest fan. And George is just as devoted to his wife today as he was the day he said "I do."
"We love each other, and we still like each other," George said. "We're so blessed that we were able to experience this life together, to support each other through everything, good times and bad."
Every life with be faced with challenges and trials. And it's faith that carries us through. What a wonderful testimony George Strait has!
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1