Donald Lawrence: On taking the legacy of gospel music mentor Edwin Hawkins abroad

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Donald Lawrence, the choirmaster, conductor and producer known for gospel songs like “Encourage Yourself” and “The Blessing of Abraham,” has had a far-ranging career in music.He was a staff musician for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s “PTL (Praise the Lord) Club,” the music director for R&B artist Stephanie Mills and the front man for The Tri-City Singers and Donald Lawrence & Company.
Now, he’s continuing the mission of his mentor, the late Edwin Hawkins, and seeking to extend the reach of gospel music, known widely in America’s Black congregations, to the choirs of Europe and other parts of the world.
From April 27-29, he is set to present “Music + Arts Global” at a theater owned by Ruach City Church, a predominantly Black Pentecostal megachurch in London. He’ll be joined by hundreds of choir members from across Europe as well as South America and the United States. After two days of rehearsals and training, they will sing in a finale concert featuring Lawrence’s music, as well as that of other artists, including Hawkins’ crossover hit “Oh Happy Day.”
Edwin Hawkins attends the Apollo Theater Spring Gala and 80th Anniversary Celebration at the Apollo Theater on June 10, 2014, in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision for AP Images)
“It’s really about inspiring the next generation of choir people,” said Lawrence, 61, in an April 12 interview about the six-figure event he is funding himself. “I wanted Music + Arts to be a coming together, a gathering of choir creatives, so that when they leave, they go back to their individual countries, and they’re inspire …

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