For those old enough to remember
the movie American Graffiti or who have seen the film in later years,
you will remember a subplot involving Curt Henderson as portrayed by actor
Richard Dreyfuss. The young Dreyfuss always seemed one step behind in catching
up with the blonde-haired girl (Suzanne Somers) in the T-Bird. Rocketown
Records recording artist George Rowe had an auspicious beginning to his
career that sounds a lot like Curt Henderson.
Rowe had got it into his
head that if he could only meet his hero David Foster then he could jump-start
his career in music. His encounters and near misses, however, always seemed
to leave him wondering if Foster even knew he existed. Rowe's first encounter
with Foster occurred while he was attending Pepperdine University on a
full scholarship. He became friends with Foster's nanny who offered to
introduce Rowe to Foster. She arranged for Rowe to sit in on a studio session.
Foster and Natalie Cole were creating her CD Unforgettable. Rowe recalled
the somewhat humbling experience, "I was blown away to not only meet David
Foster but Natalie Cole (as well). I thought this is so cool. I sat there
speechless and had nothing interesting to contribute at all. When we broke
for lunch Natalie said, 'Now why are you here? Who are you?" After stammering
out a reply that didn't really answer the question, he sat silent in the
studio for another four hours. When everyone went their separate ways,
Rowe felt he had blown a great opportunity to tell them about his hope
for a career in music.
Rowe's second Foster encounter
was both grotesque and more fleeting. After their first encounter, Rowe
had recorded a demo just on the off chance he might someday meet Foster
again. "A couple of years later I am driving home late at night on the
Pacific Coast highway and I saw a terrible accident. It turned out driver
was a friend of mine from law school," he said. Rowe described the scene
as his friend being bloodied after hitting a jay walker who was now dead.
He quickly called 911 and began to help in whatever way he could. Rowe
said, "Minutes later David Foster drives by." Rowe's obvious priority was
the accident scene but it all seemed so surrealistic to him.
Rowe displayed an interesting
mixture of being naïve and an attorney like persistence when he decided
to do the unthinkable and just drop by David Foster's house with his demo
CD in hand. At the security gate he spoke rapidly over the intercom system
in a self-professed attempt to confuse the person at the other end. His
plan worked because the gentleman became confused and told Foster that
there was a friend of his outside who had been in an accident with him
and needed to see him. The man who Rowe mistook for a security guard and
later turned out to be an emerging singer met him on the driveway with
a less than warm greeting. The jig was up and Rowe was told, 'He gets hundreds
of these every single day what makes you think he will listen to yours?'
To make a long story short,
the man agreed to take Rowe's CD and sent Rowe on his way. Foster promptly
threw Rowe's CD in the trash. Later in the evening Foster and the other
artist had a change of heart and hauled the CD out of the garbage. They
listened to and then, Rowe continued the story, "They called me at 12:30
am. They said, 'Is that really you singing on the demo?' I said yes. They
said, 'We have to talk can you come over tomorrow?'" Foster
came up with an idea for Rowe and the other artist to form a duet with
Foster producing the project. Unfortunately, the CD fizzled. Foster and
Rowe, however, remain friends to this day.
Rowe went back to working
at his lucrative job with a Malibu law firm. He lived in a lush neighborhood
where his neighbors included; Tom Hanks, Cindy Crawford, Cher, Barbara
Streisand as well as many other celebrities. All this seemed a far cry
from his life growing up in Clayton, New Jersey, a blue collar town of
6,000 people. To some this would appear an idyllic existence but something
was missing. The aching in his heart to pursue a ministry in music would
not go away, "At night and on the weekends I would go around singing at
churches, camps, youth functions and colleges. I borrowed money from a
friend to record a CD and sold it out of the trunk of my car. I just felt
so fulfilled and useful."
Rowe struggled over whether
to continue with his law career or to follow the tugging at his heart strings.
"I didn't want to be a starving artist and was pretty proud of the fact
that I was an attorney. Nobody in my family had ever gone to college, let
alone graduate school. It was fun to go home to a small one traffic light
town in New Jersey where everyone knew that I was an attorney and had done
well. I got used to do that and got sucked into the lifestyle," he said.
It was at the urging of
his peers; friends; and his best friend, his wife Merritt; that he decided
to choose music. When I asked Rowe how his fellow lawyers responded he
said, "(They said) it's about time. They were big supporters. They all
knew what I was doing and had bought my CD. They all gave me their blessings
when I left. They are still great supporters today."
Although Rowe was sure this
was what God wanted him to do, the impression is clear it was not without
fear and trepidation, "I thought, okay, I am giving up a lot here and God
has to honor this urge that He has put upon my heart."
"I was pretty worn down
by the time the record came out (late in 2003). It was a pretty draining
process. It was emotionally draining and financially draining. I really
had to examine my heart to figure out if this is what I wanted to do,"
Rowe said throughout the
difficult times of launching a career as a Christian artist and adjusting
to the sparse income that often accompanies those beginnings, his wife
Merritt has been a fortress. He used superlatives such as organized, phenomenal
and unwavering to describe her. "She has been a pillar of strength and
faith. She is positive, constructive and affirming. (She has told me) 'I
am still confident this is what you are supposed to be doing with your
life.' She is pretty down to earth and aware of the things that are important
in life. She has been pretty committed to me as a companion and as a friend.
The song "Think About That"
was birthed when Rowe was feeling generally discouraged about life. Merritt
directed him to Philippians chapter four and verse eight. It is a passage
that speaks to all the good things that God does bestow upon us.
The CD Think About That
provides a reflection of the peace and encouragement George and Merritt
Rowe have found in Scripture. Beautiful praise tunes such as "Swerve,"
"Everlasting," and "Say The Word" adorn this album. They are gentle songs
that highlight the R&B timbre of Rowe's vocals.
Rowe also draws upon lessons
learned as a child. He said, "My parents are blindly faithful. They are
resolute in their faith. We were at the church building whenever it was
open. (When I was a child) they were committed to Christ and leading us
(to be like Christ). That fundamentally has shaped who I am." He
says despite the fact that his father worked shift work he never missed
a school concert or sporting event that his siblings and he were involved
in. "His kids were his priority. My parents sacrificed and did anything
for their family. They loved us with their time and attention," he said.
Those lessons of sacrifice
have spilled over into Rowe's ministry today. His involvement with International
Justice Mission and his own prison ministry are just two examples. "I was
first introduced to them (International Justice Mission) when they were
in town (Nashville) three years ago for GMA week. They heard that Rocketown
had signed an attorney to their roster," said Rowe.
He described for me the
work of International Justice Mission, "When you hear about the victims,
their stories and the atrocities that are happening in the Asian countries
we go into, it is just heart wrenching. The organization goes in and rescues
young girls who are sex slaves overseas. They are being held against their
will." Readers will be shocked to learn that these girls are in many cases
ten years old or younger. While touring with Natalie Grant he discovered
that she was also involved in supporting the ongoing efforts of IJM and
hopes together they can raise the awareness of these tragic conditions.
Rowe said one of the greatest
blessings he received while performing occurred in a level five prison
in Georgia. He described the inmates singing as sounding like a well rehearsed
Rowe enjoys being a part
of the Rocketown Records family. He said, "I truly love going to work everyday.
Sometimes it means being on a tour bus and seeing different parts of the
country. Sometimes it means sitting at home writing songs, going to the
studio, writing or visiting with the media."
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.