MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – In the lobby of the Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts at Florida Memorial University (FMU) in Miami Gardens is a bronze statue of a woman singing.

The sculpture, titled “Lift Every Voice,” was inspired by the brothers who were the song’s lyricist and composer, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) and James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938). With John Rosamond then a professor at FMU, the university is credited as the birthplace of what is known as the “Negro National Anthem.”

The artist who created the iconic singing lady, however, nearly 20 years ago, is George Gadson. With more than 20 other public works of art to his credit, Gadson is one of the most prolific African-American public artists in South Florida.

The self-taught artist has been invited to create an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree, and works of art for two South Florida Super Bowls. He has also created bronze busts, such as that of the late philanthropist Jim Moran.

Gadson’s background in banking balances his creative passion, making him one of today’s most financially savvy and successful African-American public artists.

The Florida artist entrepreneur also is unique as a seasoned creative consultant for the Small Business Development Center at Florida Atlantic University. He teaches an annual course, sharing techniques and strategies for becoming a more business minded-artist. For more than a decade he has been a lead faculty member for The Artist as Entrepreneur Institute. He also spends time teaching underprivileged children and contributing to major corporate boards.

“The best way to live your life is to do what you love and get paid while doing it,” said Gadson.

“I want other artists to know that they too can make a living doing what they love to do. It takes time, commitment, perseverance and never giving up.”