Grammy Award winning producer, composer and recording artist Donald Lawrence has done it again – hit #1 that is. For the first time since his 1995 CD,Bible Stories, with the Tri-City Singers hit the top spot on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart, the Chicago-based performer has hit #1 with his latest CD,YRM: Your Righteous Mind (Verity Gospel Music Group).
“I’m honored after 18 years in the business to have another #1,” Lawrence says. “I personally thought most would find this CD dated because I channeled late 80s and early 90s musical styles but I’m finding that actually made it fresh. I just followed my heart.”
Indeed, the current radio single “Spiritual,” is a bass heavy old school soul-styled groove that is currently #12 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs radio airplay chart. New York Times pop critic Ben Ratliff calls it a masterpiece. “The song builds a tower,” he writes. “The last two minutes become breathtaking: the shifting harmony, and Ms. McAllister-Dyke’s hollering give it nearly gravitational force.”
On the new masterwork, YRM, Lawrence blends the classicism of traditional gospel music and retro soul grooves with uplifting, messages of self-affirmation and practical exercises of faith. Among the collection’s other highlights are the upbeat mantra “YRM (Your Righteous Mind)” featuring Dorinda Clark Cole, the smooth “We Agree” with Israel Houghton, The “I Am” Factor sermonette by Zimbabwe’s charismatic Bishop Tudor Bismark, siblings Tobbi White Darks and Tommi White’s rousing makeover of Chaka Khan’s 1984 hit “Through The Fire” and a spirited update of Lawrence’s mentor – the late Bishop Walter Hawkins’ 1984 gem “When The Battle Is Over.” The set is a continuum of what he’s been preaching for years. “This project really doesn’t differ from my past ones,” he says. “I want to continue to teach, through song, spiritual principles and laws based on scriptures.”
The Chicago based artist began his career as a music director for R&B legend Stephanie Mills and vocal coach for En Vogue. Then, in the mid 1990s he made headlines as the leader of the Grammy-nominated Tri-City Singers choir that enjoyed a dozen radio hits such as “The Blessing of Abraham,” “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “Encourage Yourself.” In 2004, Lawrence launched a solo career that has included signature songs such as “Back II Eden” and “Healed.” Since 2007, Lawrence has served as spokesman for Verizon Wireless’ How Sweet The Sound national gospel choir talent competition.