It’s been a memorable twelve years of Tri-City Singers celebration. Their distinguishable style, flawless sound and unforgettable selections has not only left a blueprint on excellence for other choirs to apply but their contemporary choral music has left a deep abiding impact on the lives of countless others who took the time to recount the moment their ministry changed their lives.
BLACKGOSPEL.COM recently ran a Grand Prize Contest for the Limited Collectors Edition of THE FINALE CD/DVD album release, to collect a few of those compelling stories, in which Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers’ ministry offered a spiritual makeover on the lives of listeners.
Many of the most enthusiastic fans from around the world recalled memorable moments when a Tri-City Singers performance or witness made an impact on the lives of family and friends, strangers and schoolmates, Americans and foreigners, alike. We highlighted just a few of those tales for testimonial purposes. Thanks to all our contestants who sent in their impressionable tales and congratulations to our very fortunate winners.
“SAY GOODBYE” CONTEST WINNERS
PRIZE: Donald Lawrence & Tri-City Singers FINALE DVD
- ARLENA TEMPLE (MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS)
I believe my most memorable time for the ministry of the Tri-City Singers is one song “When The Saints Go To Worship”. This song not only challenged me as a so-called saint, but it showed me the presence of God and true worship.
This song says when we go to worship, that’s when the King of Glory enters in and…my God…I was so longing to see the presence of God at hand. This song and CD alone blesses me with the opportunity to bow before God’s presence and worship Him.
Another song was the song sang during the wedding of (Prophetess) Juanita (Bynum). It was like worship was not excluded even during her most important day.
The ability of Worship in each of their songs says a lot about the artist, and I thank God for this group. My prayer is that God allows someone to be blessed by the opportunity to listen, or to encounter a worship experience when listening to the Tri-City Singers.
- STEFAN ORONSSON (OREBRO, SWEDEN)
I had bought the CD, “I Speak Life” and I was going home and sat down in my sofa and played the CD. And when I came to track 3 – He Covered Me – I started to weep. It was just what I needed in that moment. Even though I had gone on my own way and wanted to do things by myself, God protected me because He loved me.
He never forgot me, even if I turned another way. This song has given me so much. Donald Lawrence has a gift from God. This music touched my heart. Where would I be if He hadn’t covered me though my life?
- ARIADNE POLLOCK (IRMO, SOUTH CAROLINA)
My most memorable experience listening to Donald Lawrence and the Tri-city Singers have to do with the songs “I Am God” and “Oh Peter”. I was going through a very rough time in my life and the Lord kept pointing me to II Timothy 1:7. One day I got so discouraged, I just wanted to give up. I had fasted and prayed and lived my life the best way I knew how for the Lord and nothing seemed to change. Usually when I get in moods like this, all I want to do is listen to music. And I put on the CD, “Bible Stories” and it makes me smile.
While listening to this CD, I looked ahead on the cover to the other songs and “Oh Peter” caught my eye. And right after I put it on, I couldn’t stop listening to it. I put it on repeat and allowed it to minister to my spirit and I was freed from fear and despair and I knew from then that God was with me. Now anytime I am discouraged, I remember that moment or put on Bible Stories and listen to “Oh Peter”.
The song “I Am God” is just as meaningful to me. When I listen to it, the song helps me to remember how powerful and majestic God really is and how He doesn’t need my help to solve my problems. “I Am God” to me, is one of the more exceptional songs in gospel music and will always remain one of my favorites. God Bless you all and may His peace always shine upon you, because of Him.
- JOY FILIUS-BAILEY (LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)
I was at work one day, and I heard a song on the Internet radio station that was so compelling, I had to stop what I was doing to listen. I was going through a rough time and I was trying to keep things together. The song said, “Lord I try to do my best, but the road is so hard”. The words, that voice and the music broke through my self-pity and sort of shook me awake. I was reminded that I was not supposed to try to figure things out by myself. I needed to give it to the Lord and let him fix it.
That song became my anthem and everytime I heard it from then on, I would just really listen for a moment and forget my issues. I went to the music stores trying to find anybody who could tell me where I could find the song. I sang it to many employees at the music stores. For some reason, nobody knew what the name of the song was, or whose album it was on. I gave up my search and just waited to hear it on the radio.
Every so often, I would talk about the song to my husband, but he didn’t know what I was talking about because, while he was a huge fan of Donald Lawrence and Tri-City singers, his favorite album is the Bible Stories album. He had lost his copy before we were married and constantly talked about replacing it. I wanted to buy it for him as a gift and surprise him with it. I searched high and low and could not find it anywhere.
I finally was able to purchase it online through an Internet distributor after waiting for months for it to become available. This album was being sold with the “Go Get Your Life Back” album, so I purchased that one as well. I figured it would be nice to start replacing his lost collection of Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers albums. This was ironic because we had just begun to replace things in our lives that we had lost over the years.
One day, I was cleaning the house and put on my husband’s “Go Get Your Life Back” album. To my surprise, there was the song I had been looking for the last two years, “Lord I Try” by Erica Bratton-McCullough. I got so excited that I started yelling at my husband as I told him this was the song I had been trying to find. He just started laughing. It was like cool water on a dry day. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I thanked God for blessing me with this pleasant surprise, when all I wanted to do was to make someone else happy.
I thank God for Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers for everything it took to make this one song and all the albums they have produced. Donald Lawrence and Tri-City Singers, your work has not been in vain. You have touched many lives in many ways and don’t think that for one moment you were just singing and making albums. You have ministered to lives in distress and despair. And you have helped many people celebrate their victories, their blessings and their most special moments.
You are that voice crying in the wilderness for that lonely person who thinks they have been forgotten. Your music is family to the orphan and hugs to the unloved. Thank you so much for all that you have contributed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you will all continue to work in the gospel music industry doing the work of the Lord. I am sad that you are bidding us farewell, but I hope this is not the end. Thank you and God Bless You!
- LAVERNE BROWN (WESTMOUNT, ILLINOIS)
On November 21, 2005, my husband told me he wanted to be single. What a blow for me. I moved to this state to be with him ten years ago. Initially, I had no idea what I was going to do. All I knew was he did not want me anymore. Not only did he not want me; he wanted others. I knew I had to move out of what we call home and start over. I have never lived alone and this was to be the first time, but I knew as long as God was with me I could make it. It was hard remembering this because the flesh is something else.
February 8th 2006 was my move date and I was scared. I had no savings and no clue how to function single. I was use to being a duet. I knew all the right words my friends were saying to me, and what I have said to myself in the past was right. However I moved here to be with him and now I was alone…or so I thought….
My girlfriend came to help me move. As we drove to the budget rental place, she was playing a CD and someone was singing about “Seasons”. I had never heard this song before, then I heard, “You survived the worst of time…” Hmm…Is He talking to me? I continued to listen - God was always on your side, state your claim and write your name, walk into this wealthy place“. At that moment, a smile escaped and it was the first time I had smiled in 2 months. I cried to and from work, during worship and Bible study every week. All of a sudden, from within, I felt a change. About 3 or 4 songs later, I heard “Keep your hand upon me Keep your hand upon me That no evil can not harm me, Sunshine and rain Sickness and pain, Lord I humbly come to you” Wow! I was stunned. God is awesome, working through this group just to reach me!
By the time this song finished I was in the car shouting “Thank you Almighty God!” I was crying again but this time my tears were tears of joy. My girlfriend had to pull over and we both went into praising His name out loud. I listened to that CD over and over again. Every song ministered to my broken soul. I am healed, my heart is mending and soon I will be ready to love like it is the first time. At age 44, it will be hard starting a new relationship, but God is showing me how everyday through the ministry of Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers.
Thank you for your lyrics and the Holy Spirit that moves in each of you! I know this group was ministering to me that day and many others. Today, as I was on my way home, I had my headphones on listening to Gospel radio. And guess who was on it, none other that Mr. Donald Lawrence himself…Work it Holy Spirit!
- JUDY MILLER (CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA)
My most memorable show was when Donald Lawrence and Tri-City Singers were at University Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. It was during a time that I was going through a lot with caring for my mother who had breast cancer. I felt that if I attended the show, I would be able to find comfort, through the musical ministry of Donald Lawrence and Tri-City Singers, in knowing that my territory would be enlarged. I would be able to get the breakthrough of emotional ties to sadness and grief.
Well I purchased that “Go Get Your Life Back” CD and played it till my mother passed away and every time I hear “Enlarge My Territory”, I think of my mother and how the day would come that her territory would be enlarged. God Bless you all in your individual and/or collective endeavors. May Heaven smile on each of you. And know that you have brought music to a society that has needed spiritual healing through your music. Thank you all and God bless you once again.
- AARON JACKSON (SARASOTA, FLORIDA)
My most memorable experience occurred in the lowest time of my life. For about 18 months, I was a single parent raising two children. My wife was suffering with a medical illness that I was sure would leave me as a widow at only 30 years old. I have always been a fan of D Lawrence and Tri-City Singers. But the song that broke the yoke of frustration, debt, hopelessness, etc was “The Prayer Of Jabez”. The words of that song ministered to me like no family member or church could do. I thank God for Brother Lawrence yielding himself to the will of God and we will miss him dearly!
- DANNY CASTELOW (OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA)
It was Christmas time…but the joy was gone. Overworked…too many things to do that had not been done…gifts not wrapped…cards not written yet. I was really in the mood to just “skip” over the holiday and jump into January. Then, I picked up Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers incredible Christmas CD!
I put the CD on, sat in a chair in my apartment and then, an incredible transformation took place. Oh, the anointing! I had almost forgotten…the angels! Oh, now I remember… the joy bells ringing! Hey, now it comes back to me…”The Little Drummer Boy”. Thank you! Now I acknowledge the Comforter, the Savior, Mary’s Baby, the King! It’s the true meaning of Christmas.
Everything came together for me in that moment. That year, Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers put the Christ back in my Christmas!
- KATHY BRATTON HARRIS (ARMED FORCES)
It was around June of 2000. They were having a concert at Emmanuel Baptist Church Gastonia, were I had attended church. It was a huge occasion. Donald Lawrence was going to be there. That’s all my young son, Ryan, would say. He had gotten to know them through me. I will never forget it. All he could do is say, at the time is, “Mama, it’s him, Uncle Donald and Aunt Erica”. He was only about 10 years old, at the time. But my son truly loved Donald Lawrence. At the time, I had gotten married and was living in Salisbury. The Lord had afforded me the opportunity to know Donald, as we grew up, since we lived on the same street where he would have choir practice at his home, where he lived with his Mother Edwards. She would always give us cookies and we were faithful to this practice on Cameron Street in Gastonia.
It was something because he would make sure everyone had an opportunity to sing. Even if you couldn’t sing, he would make you sound good. Hanging with him was always a joy and to see him now is, as well. Donald will always be someone special to me. I remember him from a lot of experiences because his gifts and talents was something he didn’t mind sharing with others and he always enjoyed watching them grow. He was especially loved by my Godmother, Rev. Joann Barber. He helped her all the time with her singing and her son sang with him when he started his first group – The Company. They were awesome and famous for songs like Superman, one of Donald’s songs he wrote for the group.
I use to work with him backstage, helping the women out when they got ready for the play he wrote. It’s been so long…I think the stage play was the Preacher’s Wife. This is how my son got to know Donald because my son was always at our practices sitting at the piano when Donald and Richard Odom would practice. He directed the Gastonia Baptist Association Mass Choir at the time, where I got a chance to sing in the alto section, along with my cousin Erica Bratton-McCollough, who continued to sing with Donald and eventually grew up to be the awesome vocalist she is today.
I could go on and on about Donald and how he has been a blessing in my life. As I think about this young man I grew up with and how God has empowered him with so many great opportunities to bless others through song and other ministries, I am so blessed. He has left a mark on Black Gospel music in such a positive way. I am so proud of him. Even if I don’t win, I am happy to know that maybe he will get to see this note. I remember the good old days when he used to encourage me to believe in myself and I never had to settle for anything from anybody. There are so many things.
What was special about Donald Lawrence at this particular concert was the face my son made when he saw him get on stage. It was something to watch…my ten year old praising the Lord like he did when he saw Donald sing his song. He loved the album, “Bible Stories”. At this time we had not seen him for a few years. God had allowed him to move forward with his choir and Men’s group – Company – but we would occasionally see him when he came to my Godmother’s beauty and barber shop to get his hair cut. I used to work there.
My son was such a fan of Donald, he would not let me leave that concert until he got to meet Donald, so I took him over to the other side of the church where they were getting ready to get in the limo and there was Richard Odom, who took him to Donald’s dressing room where he got a chance to say “hey”. Donald signed his church program. When my son came out of that room, he seemed as though he had seen a ghost. He looked at me with them big old brown eyes and said, “Mama, I just saw Uncle Donald”.
My son, Ryan, is now 18 years old and living in Germany with my daughter and husband, who is serving in the Military and about ready to go back to Iraq. Ryan is graduating in June. He is the reason I wrote this testimony because he recently told me, “Mama, Uncle Donald is still my favorite gospel singer and writer”. So, I would like to say to Donald, “God bless you my brother.” There are some of us who will never forget the impact you had on our lives. We love you and will always be proud of who you became in Christ. Thank God our paths cross.
- ANJANETTE WILLIAMS (COLUMBUS, GEORGIA)
I am really sad to know that Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers will no longer be recording because they have helped me in some of my most trying times. I remember when I first heard about the choir and saw them on Bobby Jones Gospel. They had such energy. It reminded me of the way I used to sing in choirs from my hometown (Pensacola, Florida). I had not experienced that since my family left there. But it was so good to see that there is still a choir that believes in giving God their all when they sing.
On one occasion, when my father was going through horrible tribulations, I recall our choir singing “The Presence Of The King” that Sunday. And the spirit of God moved mightily in that place. I am always using their songs to worship in my home, in my car, and with my best friend. I have grown up all of my life watching my Father (by the way, he is our Pastor) lose a lot at the hands of so-called ”saints”, but it doesn’t stop his love nor his willingness to work in his calling. I’ve seen him endure tragedies that I do not think I could live through.
So, recently God had placed it my heart to have the choir sing “Restoring the Years” so that my dad would be reminded that God is going to give back everything he has lost, and then some. Donald and Tri-City Singers, I could be here for days telling how much their songs have blessed me and my family and our church, but I will just end this with one last memory.
I was married to my children’s father for ten years and I suffered abuse, physically, mentally and verbally. In my going through, I remember playing many songs from your CDs, but mainly (now) when I play “You Covered Me”, I know that God allowed me to live through that tragedy to help someone else who may go through the same experience. Thank You, Donald and Tri-City! I wish you all of God’s blessings in the years to come. I am praying that you change your mind and return, but only if it is God’s will, because I do not want you to do anything that is out of the will of God. May God richly bless and Keep you all….Keep Singing! Lord knows I will.