Interview: Donald Lawrence

Donald Lawrence - 2009Throughout his prolific career as a recording artist and facilitator of the Word,Donald Lawrence has shown himself to be a man rooted in deep spiritual thought and biblical references. Lawrence’s award-winning catalog of music also reveals a man intensely inspired by scriptures and prophetic revelation. “The Blessings Of Abraham”, “Bless Me, The Prayer of Jabez”, “I Speak Life” give some insight to Lawrence’s enormous attraction and trust in the power of utterance…speaking things into existence…the transformation of words into life.

The poetic, lyrical content and carefully crafted enunciation in all of his recordings with The Tri-City Singers and Companyare further evidence of his unwavering emphasis on the value and vindication of words.

In his latest album, as in life, Gospel music’s shrewdest scribe delivered his most thought-provoking epistle to date in – The Law Of Confession, Part 1 – a compelling exhortation to the saints of God on the influence and efficacy of words. This custom-made musical dissertation speaks about the power of positive words on our lives and the lives of people in our circle of influence. It was a discussion piece that filled our recent exchange with one of the most articulate spokespersons for the Gospel today.

Christopher Heron: Let’s begin with the topic of discussion for many listeners, which is your new album “The Law of Confession”. In speaking with many who listen to your music, your title is an instant hit. You’ve always had the knack for coming up with great titles for your albums. What was the inspiration for this particular title, “The Law of Confession”?

Donald Lawrence: I love titles. That’s normally the thing that gets my creative juices going and gets me thinking. I’m just a title person. The more interesting the title, the more interested I am in the project. This particular title was inspired by a teaching my pastor – Dr. Bill Winston – who shared a word about a year and a half ago, and it was called “The Law of Confession”.

I’m usually on the road, but actually home this particularly Sunday. The actual message just blew me away, so I asked him if I could do an album based on this series, and asked if he would give me his notes. What he did was give me his raw manuscript for his book, which is scheduled to be released in a few months. I wrote the song based on different lines and different themes. What you hear is really like a sermon put in to song, my words mixed in with his.

CH: Your latest version of “The Company” is an awesome cast of singers: Dewayne Woods, Jason Nelson, Latrice Pace, and Kim McFarland. You’ve spent enough time in Chicago and worked with enough singers from the Windy City to make what I consider a fair assessment. How rich in talent is Chicago when it comes to Gospel vocalists when compared to the Carolinas, where you’ve spent so much of your music career?

DL: It’s a little different flavor, but there’s so much talent here. For Chicago, Gospel music is a lifestyle. It wasn’t like that in North Carolina. I am amazed at Chicago because Gospel music is everywhere. It’s seven days a week, very alive like Country music is a lifestyle in Nashville. I don’t think there’s any place where Gospel music is bigger in this country than in Chicago. Over the last four years, we’ve found a really good chemistry among singers. It’s been a great experience.

CH: When we spoke many years ago, I asked you, ‘what was your favorite biblical text’, in which you responded Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” You stated that words have the power to change circumstances and lives. Could you expand on how you’ve embraced that biblical principle through your teachings from Pastor Bill Winston, and how it’s affected your musical content, your ministry, and your personal life?

DL: I’ve learned that this is a “word planet”. From its conception, God spoke and it happened. That example lets us know that words come out and they have life. I’ve learned that if I continue to speak in a certain kind of way, it attracts things to me. I’m trying to use that as a principle to live my daily life. There is a way that you speak that keeps your mind calm that even when things don’t go your way, it doesn’t throw your balance or shake your faith. That’s the real key. It’s about having faith that your words become a habit and a way of life. That really helps me to not stress about things I would have stressed about when I was younger.

CH: It’s become apparent that you’ve undergone personal spiritual growth, as manifested in the lyrical content of your compositions. At this point, it seems as though you’ve digested, ruminated and delivered the word of God in such a commanding way in your latest release. When we last spoke, you stated that your spiritual growth over the last several years could be mostly attributed to your pastor Bill Winston. Could you elaborate on how his teachings and your relationship with him has helped your growth and expanded your understanding of the Word?

DL: I believe in life you’re always looking for more. You look for that one person that will really inspire you. I think everybody has that one person. When I listen to him speak, it’s just the way he words things, the revelations inside of the text. I just really found myself in that same particular place he draws you. When he speaks, I hear me and it speaks to me in a certain way.

I think that only happens when we look for that revelation and we eventually find it, and I just kind of found it through him. Therefore, it also made me look at different scriptures in different ways. The more I looked at the scriptures that way, the more they opened up to me. I see and hear them differently, and I think that doesn’t happen until you can handle it.

CH: You also mentioned in our last conversation that it’s so important to understand seasons, to recognize when it’s time to transition in to new stages and new opportunities in your life. I believe it was the motivation behind closing the curtain on the Tri-City Singers, perhaps moving to Chicago and taking on duties as a professor. As you look back on that time in your life, do you sometimes think that perhaps the door was closed a little too soon on the Tri-City Singers?

DL: It’s always best that we take something that valuable and that good like the Tri-City Singers – and let it close in a good way and not falling apart, which has happened too many times to other groups and choirs. People just need to know when to change or transition into something new. There are things that you just need to switch gears on. We didn’t fall apart, we didn’t fall out. We’re still great friends. We know what everybody’s doing.

But in order for people to grow sometimes, you need to shut some things down; otherwise, you’ll just be “there”, in the same place, and before you know it, years have gone by and nobody’s done anything anymore. It was just time for us to do something else. It’s a new beginning. That’s all. I loved Tri-City. It was one of my favorite choirs. Definitely, God made the choir for me. I trained them like children. I told them what luggage to carry on the bus, what shoes to wear. Whenever you’ve invested that much into something, it’s very hard to just say “ok, this is it.” But it was time for that child to move on. It could always turn itself in to something else by multiplying and duplicating and adding to the fold.

CH: You’ve stated that a couple of new ambitions you have would be to pursue perhaps a stage career, writing plays. Are those still very high on your priority list, or are you more interested in the careers of your protégées like Dewayne Woods and The Murrills?

DL: Theaters and television is always going to be right there on my priority list. I’m slowly pursuing them. I’m actually getting closer and closer to doing some things. There are just a lot of things coming my way and I’m just kind of taking it slowly. I’m the type of person who wants to learn the business as I’m doing it, and not just jump in to it too fast.

Theater is something I have a lot of training in, but television is a new machine to me. They all work the same, but different; so I just have to learn a different rhythm for television, as opposed to the rhythm of music. It’s a different kind of movement, but I definitely say give me a couple of years and I’ll probably start showing signs. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things I want to write about. I’m definitely going to do a reality show in Gospel music called “Making the Choir”. It’s going to be a different type of reality show, but one that inspires, perhaps 60 people getting into a choir.

CH: Professional stylists have taking notice of your attention to detail when it comes to your presentation, as seen on your album covers, and the presentation of your singers. Where does this inspiration for presentation come from?

DL: I used to have a stylist, but I’m a hard person to work with because I know what I want to wear and I know what I want to look like but Carlton definitely styled me, assisted really well and brought some things to the table. He just really brought my style to the forefront. I couldn’t do it as well so he definitely did a great job. But when you see me move around, it’s definitely all me. I’m the kind of person that goes to Milan or goes to London and looks at things I really like. Fashion is one of the other things I would really love to do. Create a men’s line. Trendy, but not too trendy that it would go out of style.

CH: In conclusion, what is the final message or the final impact you would like to leave with those that will experience The Law Of Confession?

DL: I really want to remind them again how important words are. I’m happy that everyone is finding themselves guarding what they say after listening to the album. This is what I wanted this album to achieve. I wanted to remind them who they are and not let systems or corporate structures validate them.

I want them to realize that we’re all great inside or outside of a corporate system, and that they have to hold on to their beliefs and they’ll be surprised at what can be attracted. I think that everybody should be an entrepreneur so that they can be pushed to do their own thing and that there’s nobody over them telling them what to do and how to be, but rather they’re following the scriptures and becoming their own unique and special person.

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