George Strait is often to referred to as the “King of Country” – but, behind the fame and fortune, there’s a man that few people really know.
The country music icon has gone through more than most could even imagine, and he’s experienced things that seem unfathomable to the rest of the world. Despite all of the good times and bad, George managed to keep one constant in his life….
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On May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas, George Harvey Strait was welcome into the world. Despite being born in the great state of Texas, his childhood was far from perfect.
When George was in third grade, his parents split up and his mother abandoned their family and took his sister with her. George and his brother John Jr., also known as “Buddy” around his loved ones, were raised by their heartbroken father.
After dabbling in a rock n’ roll garage band during his time at Pearsall High School, George’s attention quickly turned to love.
In 1971, he and his high school sweetheart, Norma, eloped in Mexico. Later that same year, George enlisted in the United States Army and the newlyweds were stationed in Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, as a part of the 25th Infantry Division.
Even though he was part of the Armed Forces, George never lost sight of his true passion: music.
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During his time in Hawaii, George performed with the Army band, “Rambling Country” and performed all over the Big Island. But just a few months into George’s service, Norma became pregnant with their daughter, Jenifer.
It looked as though God just kept blessing them with good fortune, happiness and love!
In an interview with Hollow Verse, George spoke about how faith was instilled in him from the start:
“My dad, of course, raised my brother and me on his own, and he raised us in a real religious atmosphere.
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.”
After Jenifer’s birth, God took the Straits on a different route. He was honorably discharged from the Army and immediately enrolled at Texas State University in San Marcos. It was on that campus where George got the big music break he had been praying for….
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George discovered a flyer saying the little-known country music band “Stoney Ridge” was looking for a new lead vocalist. Sensing this could be a great outlet for his musical ambition, George auditioned and was quickly given the role as lead vocalist.
The band played all over Texas, and even garnered attention from music scouts from Music Row in Nashville, but nothing panned out. George was turned down by every major music label in Nashville and was close to giving up on his dream, but Norma urged him to give it one more year.
Little did they know the opportunity that was right around the corner.
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A few months after agreeing to give music one last shot, George was signed to MCA Records and the rest was history. The contract was everything he prayed for – God was definitely looking over his shoulder.
Even though life was like a dream for the Straits, tragedy struck on June 25, 1986. While George, Norma and their young son George Jr. were asleep in their home, Jenifer was out with her friends, romping through the hills in a Ford Mustang.
Unfortunately, the Mustang’s driver lost control and Jenifer was ejected from the back window – she was the only fatality. Police officials determined that she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, and that alcohol wasn’t a factor in the accident.
The death of their daughter devastated George and Norma. He turned to music and faith for solace, while Norma focused her attention on caring for George Jr., affectionately known as “Bubba.”
Nearly 21 years after the accident, George mustered the strength to record the song “You’ll Be There” for his daughter.
The heartbroken father spoke with USA Today Weekend about the song and what it meant to him:
“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.”
Even though his daughter was taken from the Earth far too soon, George knows Jenifer’s up in Heaven and he can’t wait to see her again.
Normally the passing of a child puts irreparable strain on a marriage, but Norma and George used the heartbreak to grow stronger.
George began touring again and dove into his music, faith and family! His constant support system helped George become the happy, media-shy star we know today!
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All of the attention his fame has shone on the family hasn’t gotten to George’s head. The Strait Fever website reported that it actually helps put things in perspective for him:
“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.
In other words, you can’t live out the songs you sing.”
Norma knows the man she sees on the stage and hears in the albums is vastly different than the man who snuggles up to her at night.
After 45 years of marriage, Norma still loves to see her husband perform. She sits in the audience, cheers him on and congratulates him after each show – anyone can see that the two are soulmates.
George told The Boot that, even as the decades roll by, he and Norma remain as close as ever:
“We love each other, and we still like each other. We’re so blessed that we were able to experience this life together, to support each other through everything, good times and bad.”
God blessed George with an amazing family, beautiful wife and an incredibly successful career. George knows he owes it all to Him.
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Listen to George’s amazing son about Jesus in the video below.
Even though George and his family have gone through things that most people couldn’t imagine, they’ve come out stronger than ever! He truly is an American idol.