George Strait is widely recognized as the “King of Country”, but there’s a side of George Strait many have not seen.
For over twenty-five years, Strait’s sultry voice, coupled with his inspiring lyrics and killer smile, has uplifted and encouraged millions of hearts across the country.
And although I’ve always assumed it to be true, now we know for certain: George Strait is a Christian. And if you meet him in person, you’ll quickly realize that he’s unashamed to tell you so.
The famous cowboy seems to have it all, but Strait’s life tells the story of someone who’s struggled against all odds — and overcome. I’ve always loved George Strait, but after learning all that he’s been through, I love him even more!
George Strait has recorded more Number One hits than any other artist in history (including Elvis), and has sold over 70 million albums. But like many Americans of our day, Strait was raised in a broken family.
Little George Harvey Strait was only a third-grader when his parents divorced and his mother tragically left him behind. His mother moved away with his sister, Pency, while George and his older brother John, Jr. “Buddy” were raised by their father.
Strait’s love for roping, blue jeans, and cowboy hats aren’t just a part of his ‘image.’ George is a fourth-generation Texas rancher who was raised the cowboy way — and he’s proud of it.
“Anyone can put on a cowboy hat and call themselves a country boy, but it takes a true country boy to understand the meaning behind it. It’s not about fishing, hunting… It’s about respecting your roots and your country.”
Strait’s beloved father was a mathematics teacher and a farmer, who passed away on June 4, 2013. Strait was always proud of the fact that his father singlehandedly raised him, and sacrificed everything to raise George and his brother, Buddy.
The famous country star grew up on his dad’s 2,000-acre cattle ranch in Big Wells, TX. At a young age, Strait learned the value of working hard and spent most of his weekends and summer breaks lending a hand around the ranch — roping, herding cattle, and maintaining the property.
In high school, the “King of Country” fell in love with music. But like most teenagers in the 1960s, Strait admits that he first gravitated to rock music and thought little of country — adding that he even played in a rock and roll garage band.
Strait shared, “The Beatles were big, I listened to them a lot and that whole bunch of groups that were popular then.”
But it wasn’t long before God’s plan took place and slowly but surely, Strait’s musical preference turned to country with singers such as Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bob Wills, and Frank Sinatra influencing his style.
Unlike teenagers of our day, Strait’s exposure to country music wasn’t via radio or television. Instead, it was by way of live performances, which according to Strait, “Could be heard in every town in Texas.”
After graduating from Pearsall High School, Strait tried college. But it didn’t take long for young George to realize that attending a university wasn’t a part of God’s plan for his life.
Strait promptly dropped out and asked his high school sweetheart, Norma, out on a date — but they ended up going their separate ways. After some time went by, it hit George that he was “missing out on a good thing.” He asked Norma out again and from that moment forward, they were inseparable.
George shared, “Norma was the first girl I ever loved. We knew each other forever, growing up in a small town.”
It didn’t take long for the young lovebirds to realize that God had indeed written their story. After dating for a few months, Mr. and Mrs. Strait eloped to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. After returning home, they repeated their vows in front of their families in a small church on December 4th, 1971.
George chuckled as he recalled the day he married the love of his life in Mexico: “You cross that border with a girl, and if you look young like we did, they run up to your car — they know exactly what you’re there for. I swear, we didn’t understand one word he [the pastor] said — he looked up at us and said, ‘Say I do’, so we said, ‘I do.’ Even our marriage license is in Spanish.”
For over forty-five years, the Straits have defied the pressures and distractions of Hollywood. Their love is a rarity in our day, and boy is it beautiful.
Norma Strait is proof of the old saying, “Behind every great man is a an even greater woman.” And she’s the first fans have to thank for their “King of Country.”
Thirty-five years ago, George was ready to throw in the towel. He had joined the country band, “Stoney Ridge”, after responding to a flyer the band posted looking for a new vocalist. Strait renamed the group the “Ace in the Hole Band” and quickly became the lead; they began to perform at different honky tonks and bars around south and central Texas, traveling as far east as Huntsville and Houston.
After months of grueling late nights, traveling, and barely being able to make ends meet, George was ready to throw in the towel. He was overwhelmed by rejection and felt no one really understood his music. George told the band he was tired of failing to provide for his family, and announced that he was quitting the group in trade for a steady job, designing cattle pens.
But Strait had a secret weapon – his wife. Norma told George she couldn’t bear to see him doing what he didn’t love, and convinced him to give music one more year. Six months later, George recorded the hit song, “Unwound” and landed a record deal with MCA Records — whom he’s been with ever since.
After four decades of marriage, I think it’s safe to say that George has discovered the secret of balancing his career and family life.
“King George” shared: “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.”
To this day, Norma goes to all of George’s concerts and can usually be found standing close by, with a big smile on her face, clapping and swaying to the music, faithfully waiting for her man when he walks off that stage.
In a rare interview with PEOPLE, George gushed about the incredible woman by his side: “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.”
After ten years of wedded bliss, the Straits welcomed their first child, Jenifer Lynn, on October 6, 1972. Almost nine years later, on May 14th, 1981, the family of three welcomed a bouncing baby boy, named George Strait, Jr., affectionately nicknamed, “Bubba”.
The Straits had everything they could ever want. But thirty years ago, an unimaginable tragedy hit the picture-perfect little family, and their lives were changed forever.
June 25, 1986, is the day etched on the hearts of George and Norma Strait. It was on that horrific day, that they lost their 13-year-old baby girl, Jenifer Lynn.
It was just before midnight as Little Jenifer was out riding with three friends when the driver lost control of his Ford Mustang as he attempted to take a turn too fast. The car rolled over, not far from the Strait home.
Jenifer did not have a seat belt on, was ejected from the vehicle’s open window. Thirteen-year-old little Jenifer Lynn Strait was the only fatality of the horrific, one-car, non-alcohol related accident.
Although Strait refuses to speak of the tragic accident, his 2005 song “You’ll Be There” makes him think of his daughter.
Strait told USA Today: “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.”
Shortly after losing his baby girl, George founded and created the Jenifer Lynn Strait Foundation, which is an organization that, to this day, still donates money to various San Antonio children’s charities.
To this day, Strait doesn’t make time for reporters or TV interviews. Instead, the “King of Country” focuses on the things he really treasures — his Faith, family, and music.
Additionally, he values one other very important thing: his beloved country — the great, United States of America.
Even some of the most loyal George Strait fans are unaware of the fact that the famous country singer enlisted in the Army in his younger years, before stardom.
Within the same year of marrying his high school sweetheart, George joined the United States Army.
While stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii as a part of the 25th Infantry Division, Strait began performing with a U.S. Army-sponsored band, “Rambling Country”, which played off-base under the name “Santee.”
After four years of proudly wearing a uniform, Strait was honorably discharged from the Army in 1975 and enrolled at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated with a degree in agriculture. But George never stopped honoring his beloved country.
Over the years, Strait has always made it a priority to honor military men and women at his concerts. And just recently, Strait put on an emotional show in Texas to raise funds for America’s loyal men and women of service.
He told his fans: “The least we can do is support these brave men and women who fight for us and we are all humbled and grateful for their service.”
Watch the beautiful and emotional moment when Strait gives away a mortgage-free home to a deserving military family:
Perhaps the thing that has kept The King grounded is his faith in Jesus Christ. In 2014, George shared that he was raised Baptist, and is still a devout man of Faith to this day.
Strait explained: “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.”
In 2011, the “King of Country Music” dedicated a song to The King of Kings, Jesus Christ. “Three Nails And A Cross” is the ninth track from George Strait’s album “Here For A Good Time”, and the lyrics are so powerful and moving, it’s hard not to tear up!
Watch Strait sing to his Lord and Savior, in the video below:
There has never been, and will never be a more honorable country singer than George Strait.
Learn a few more surprising tidbits about the world-renowned “King Of Country”, in the video below:
George Strait’s inspiring music, outstanding character, faith in God, and devotion to his family, clearly sets him apart. George Strait’s life is an example we can all learn and live by.
It’s clearly no surprise why George Strait has inspired countless of lives across the country. Thank you, George Strait, for reminding Americans what a real man looks like.
Did you learn something new about the “King of Country”? We love you, George Strait! America could use a few more men like you! Please share if you agree!