Willie Norwood, the father of successful artists Ray J and Brandy spoke with Live Civil about the importance of legacy and building wealth. This conversation came following Juneteenth celebrations where the community focused on how Black people can further support each other and leave a legacy for future generations. Norwood was a speaker over the weekend at an event Black millennials held, called the Keys to Black Wealth Summit emphasizing the importance of financial freedom.
Norwood played an integral role in his children’s life by instilling the values of confidence, faith, and determination into his kids. As a result, his children became not only successful artists, but also entrepreneurs with longevity in the industry. These lessons Norwood taught his children is a blueprint for not only other fathers, but also children who weren’t fortunate to have a father figure in their lives.
What role did you play in the successful careers of your children? How did you help them develop?
I just did what I did and they picked up on it by always involving them in everything that I did as a choir director who owned his own music school and traveled to mission churches doing workshops to teach people how to sing.
In terms of generational wealth, has this been something you instilled in your children? and if so, how?
Encouragement, I think the role of a father is to authenticate, verify, and let a child know it’s okay to be who they are. I think a man is who verifies whatever the children say they want to do.
How does it feel to have children who have been able to create a legacy?
In our family they saw things they could do and I never discouraged them from trying anything they wanted to do. My mission was to be everything I could be and to never quit. That work ethic while also bringing them up in a faith based church gave them the power of the spirit in their lives.
Your children have been able to be financially stable and have long lasting careers, what have you done as a father to ensure this?
Ray J always had the more entrepreneur side while brandy was more on the gifted and talented side. Ray J has the ability to seal a deal and see it through. As a teenager I gave him a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” he read it and discussed it. That helped him learn that you don’t work for money, you make it work for you.
What advice do you have for families at the beginning of their journey to build generational wealth?
I think perseverance is the best thing. You never know, you’re next opportunity may be around the next corner. You never know how close success is. You have to stay at it and have faith in what you are doing and it will help you find your achievement. Because it’s either a blessing or a lesson.
Faith has been something keeping Black people grounded during these difficult times, what insight do you have for our community?
We have to pour into each other. I came up through segregated schools… I didn’t go to school with another race until after college. So all of my learning happened within my race and my teachers taught us we couldn’t just be good enough, we had to be better than that. We had to work hard. I think that was the main motivating thing that gave me something to give to my children.