1955. Age 9. Antonio Garcia, along with school friends, signed up for a talent show. Performing onstage was something foreign to the small acapella group. All around them, musical acts and performers dressed professionally. They stood around, waiting anxiously to hear their que.
The stage manager noticed this. He told them, “Just go out there, just do like you did at the audition,” and they did. The young boys won the talent show and the audiences hearts. That night, Antonio received the name “Little Willie G” and was exposed to the art of performing.
In 1960, Willie began with the band The Gentiles. Three years later, the band was renamed Thee Midniters. They became popular in “a lot of social and car clubs” in the East LA area. What put them on the map was the Soljian Rock and Roll Shows.
These ‘battle of the bands’ started out small, in little churches. Willie said it was “the best thing” for them because it opened the door to a career. On October 18th, 1964, they sang Land of A Thousand Dancers, their first live recording. People became obsessed with their music; this launched them into the world of showbiz. After their eruption of fame, Willie was open to new opportunities and joined the band Malo in 1974. With them, he toured two years, alongside Tower of Power, the Temptations, and many bands of the ‘70s.
After performing 21 years, Willie had experienced so many different concepts, but soon realized that “success couldn’t fill the longing” of his soul. Deep in the music industry, he began to abuse substances to fill the emptiness. He started to believe the lie that led him to think that there was nothing to hope for but death. It was in that moment the Lord sent specific people to speak into Willie’s life. One was Tony Garcia. Willie remembered Garcia as an old highschool friend he used to play with. Tony would listen to Willie “exhaust [his] script.” One instance, before heading out, Tony left Willie with one thought: “What shall it profit a man, to gain the whole word, and lose his soul?” Those words hit Willie.
Later, Willie was invited by Tony and his band to their studio recording. Willie decided to come along, thinking he’d be given the opportunity to sing, expanding his fame. But God had other plans. The Lord began speaking through Tony’s music. “I’m a firm believer in that no one is ever the same after they’ve been exposed to the Gospel,” said Willie.
On March 16, 1980, Willie received Christ as his Savior. He was with the same band again, but he was hearing the gospel in a different tune: the band’s testimonies.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” – Hebrews 4:12
Willie says that as he looks back, this was what the Lord was doing in him. He had “discovered that there is a willingness on the part of God” to come into human lives and change them forever.
Today, Willie continues to create music, praising God for what He has done. Willie recognized that he was imprisoned in his pride, but through Christ he was able to be released, finding fulfillment. Willie doesn’t want people to miss hearing the gospel. His sole desire is when people look upon his life, they see the love and peace that fulfills him.
“Don’t take my word for it,” Little Willie G tells readers, “Taste and see for yourself, that the Lord is good.”
Photo credits: Spotify