- The man who wears many musical colors.
Those seven words eloquently capture the multifaceted essence of Donald Lawrence. Songwriter. Producer. Composer. Music/choir director. Recording artist. The guiding force behind such No. 1 hits as “Encourage Yourself,” “Back II Eden” and “The Blessing of Abraham.” Equally at home in both the inspirational and contemporary arenas, the multiple Grammy and Stellar Award winner has collaborated with a diverse roster, including such marquee names as Karen Clark Sheard, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, En Vogue and Mary J. Blige.
“It’s said that the music you do is where you’ve lived,” says Lawrence of his creative journey. “What I do isn’t contrived. I don’t think in terms of genre or religious perspective. It comes from being honest. I just honor the gift and purpose I was given to touch the world and inspire. And people have paid attention to that.”
Indeed they have—to the tune of 20 years and counting.
After scoring his second No. 1 gospel album with 2011’s YRM (Your Righteous Mind), Lawrence is preparing to commemorate his anniversary milestone with the first of two albums featuring live re-recordings of select songs from his vast catalog complemented by several new tracks. Released in fall 2013, the first QWE/eOne volume, titled Best for Last, was recorded primarily in Chicago with longtime songwriting/production colleagues Daniel Weatherspoon and Percy Bady.
Also joining Lawrence for the two-volume series is a host of special guests, many of whom have played important roles in his career. The list includes Karen Clark Sheard, Kierra Sheard, Kelly Price, Lalah Hathaway, Hezekiah Walker, Stephanie Mills and Yolanda Adams. Adams’ bring-the-house-down vocals on volume one’s title track kick off a rousing celebration 20 years in the making. Yet its chorus also hints that Lawrence doesn’t plan to rest on his laurels anytime soon: “Although you may think that your time has passed \ God only saving the best for last \ Your future greater than the past.”
“I don’t know why it’s said that your best days are your youth,” explains Lawrence of the song’s message. “The Scripture talks about your latter being greater than the former. I wanted to speak to people who feel it’s a wrap. It’s never too late to dream.”