As a songwriter, producer, composer, music/choir director and recording artist, Donald Lawrence is 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. Raised by a gospel-loving aunt and influenced by gospel pioneer Andraé Crouch, he taught himself the piano at 15. From there, Lawrence put himself through the prestigious Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music as a musical theater major. He and Worth Gardner, one of the school’s professors, later wrote the 1986 musical revue “Sing Hallelujah!,” which toured across the country and played off Broadway.
After a stint on the musical staff of the TV series “PTL Club,” Lawrence trained his sights on secular music when he was asked to become vocal coach for hit-making R&B/pop female group En Vogue. The early ‘90s found him integrating both worlds. That’s when he began an eight-year tenure as music director for Broadway/R&B star Stephanie Mills while also working as part of the urban inspirational group Company, a seven-man R&B group. Providing backing vocals for Stephanie Mills, Company was also signed to Irving Azoff’s Giant Records, and released its debut album, Devotion, in 1993.
Donald Lawrence & Company will be performing at the Black Family Reunion on the Gospel Stage sponsored by Kroger, on Sunday, Aug. 20. The stage opens at 5:00 p.m. with local talent. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.myblackfamilyreunion.org.