Dateline: February 10, 2009
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DetroitGospel.com’s Karen Hunt-Barker, sits down with Donald Lawrence to discuss the inspiration behind his latest project, The Law of Confession, Part I. Listen in as Donald shares his insight on the songs and their meanings, and offers words of advice and encouragement to up and coming artists. You can also listen to and download songs from the entire project (scroll down).
Karen Hunt Barker: All right, we are interviewing Donald Lawrence. This is Karen Barker. And Mr. Lawrence – can I call you Mr. Lawrence or Donald?
Donald Lawrence: Donald, but you can call me Donald or D, either one.
Karen: Or D. Okay, great! First we want to say thank you for meeting with us today and just to congratulate you on coming back with this wonderful project!
Donald: Thank you very much for having me, and thank you. I’m glad that you enjoyed the CD. I definitely made the CD to inspire people to live, and to inspire people to remember who they are, and whose they are. So you know, honestly, I really did not know if this CD was very commercial or not. I really thought it was just going to be a little bit too heavy. However, you know, from the response that I’m getting, it really has inspired people in the different places and I’m very happy about that.
Karen: Oh, great, because I can tell you right now that Eden experience—what is it, “I’m an Eden citizen,” I wrote this down, and I will tell you, I am an Eden citizen. [Laughing] Oh, I love it. It is wonderful, and I have been a part of your ministry for years, so again, we say thank you. The next question I am going to ask you, and you have kind of hit on this, what was the defining moment for you to do this project?
Karen: Oh, wow! Now, this—your Pastor is Bill Winston right?
Donald: Yes, my Pastor is Pastor Bill Winston. He lives in Chicago. [The church is] Living Word Christian Center and he is quite a remarkable man. He’s one of those people that some—a lot of people know and a lot of people don’t know. He is very remarkable—he is a remarkable [man], I mean, how God speaks to him is amazing to me.
Karen: Oh, wow. Yes, I am very familiar with your Pastor even when I first came back to the Lord. He was one of the ministers that I watched on TV, and I thank God for TV evangelism because he is one of those men of God that you can depend on to bring a fresh word.
Donald: Yes, he really is that. And I went to the church. I saw it on television as well, and I went to the church for a year and just hid in the balcony.
Donald: Nobody knew I was there. In fact, he would be singing some of my songs on Sunday morning, and I just was in the back and I just sat back there and listened to him preach and just really enjoyed his word. And you know, since then, we’re really good friends. He always says, ‘I can’t believe you can just write these songs like this.’ [And I say,] ‘I cannot really believe you just come up with this revelation like this.’ That is amazing to me.
Karen: This leads me to my next question to you, because the way that your CD has been marketed, it says, “this is the life-changing release.” Why is it called life-changing release? What can the—your supporters, what can they expect from this CD?
Donald: The reason why they call it “life-changing CD” is because I’m making everybody realize that your words shape your world. And some of the things, and some of the places that you are, have nothing to do with anybody else but you. How you’ve been speaking and how you’ve been speaking over your own life. The one thing that when the enemy distracted Adam and Eve [and they] fell, he disconnected us from everything God gave us except for our word. He could not do that, but therefore, he contaminates them. So we’re really finding out that our words are the things that are being used against us. And so the reason why we say it is life changing, it is getting everybody to speak in what you really mean to say, and not speaking those things that are not, but speaking those things that are not as though they were. And that is what’s going to change your life and change your world.
Karen: I am going to call you minister. [Laughing]
Donald: I’ve tended to live a little bit of life, so therefore I can speak about it a little bit.
Karen: [Laughs] I can see. Okay, all right, the next question is how many songs did you write on this CD? And who else did you bring on board to help produce this particular project?
Donald: I normally write, if not 100% of my album, definitely 90% to 95%. I think I wrote about eight or nine songs on this particular CD. And I actually—it is co-produced this time. One [song] was co-produced by my musical director. His name is Daniel Weatherspoon. He just came to me really wanting to co-produce this time, which he’s always been at the healm of a lot of musical arrangements. I gave him co-production credit this time.
Donald: Along with a guy by the name of Derek Allen who we call “DOA.” He wrote the song, “Happy Being Me” along with Angie Stone and I think another writer [Saleem Asad]. And he came in and he played the acoustic guitar and he produced that particular track. It was a song I heard actually before when he cut it with Angie. I said, ‘Man, I wish I could have that song because this will fit my album perfectly.’ And you know, we went on to cover it.
Karen: Okay, wonderful! My next question is one of the other songs that I enjoy, which is “Let the Word Do the Work.” I heard the rap and I represent part of the holy hip-hop culture. I love it. Talk to me about that. [Laughs]
Donald: You know, “Let the Word Do the Work,” everybody is talking about that as well. I said that this is kind of like a hybrid. It’s kind of a little Donald Lawrence, a little Andre Crouch and a little – if you’re familiar with the House of Prayer – there’s horn sections from the House of Prayer. It’s a little rap. It’s a little quartet. It’s a little bit of everything. I call it a hybrid. When I was putting it together, I said, ‘Okay, this is really a hybrid.’ It’s like—you know, I don’t know if there’s anything like it, other than this is how I feel like it should be put together.
Donald: And again, that song was still inspired by—at the front of Pastor Winston’s book, he speaks about how God created earth and how he spoke the worlds into existence. And it was a passage in there where he just went and said, ‘you know, I guess you could say, He let His Word do the work,’ and that’s what inspired me to write the song. Just from that phrase right there, thinking about how words really are.
Donald: Like we speak things and then we see them as opposed to—we see things and then we speak about them. That’s kind of what inspired me and so I called Hassan [McMillian]. I had been talking about I wanted to do something with him and I said, ‘I got this song, I want you to do it.’ So, we sat with the lyrics, and I said, ‘the lyrics have got to fit my record… the way it is has got to fit it.’ So we kept going back and forth. And by the time we got down to probably take eight, I was like, ‘that’s it.’ That was it. So that is what you have. I think it is really something that young, middle aged, old, everybody’s going to like it, so that is what I wanted.
Karen: Yes, oh my goodness! I am going to tell you, that is going to be a crossover. That is a good song.
Donald: Yes, you know, the one thing about confession is, it’s not just for Christians and believers. It’s really the Word of the Lord [and it] will work for anybody. I think it works to a different degree for believers, because a lot of it is based on our faith, but there are things, principles inside of confession, that work for anybody, whether you’re a believer or not.
Karen: Right. Now I read somewhere that you have Kim McFarland?
Karen: You’ve got to tell the people…you went back and grabbed up some good folk.
Donald: Oh, yes. Kim McFarland has really been in the studio with me for the last three or four years. She is always doing background vocals with me. So, when I formed this background vocal group for me to go out on the road, especially after we retired the choir, she was one of the people who would come in and out and she has been pretty much a mainstay for the last couple of years. I did not want to intrude on her, so I just called her when she was able to go. And you know, we found the connection and she enjoyed being in the studio, being out on the road. She is a great singer of course. But it’s kind of like ten really amazing singers. [My] sopranos are normally Tobbi White…I’m not calling anybody’s married names because I forget them. Everybody’s gotten married in the last two or three years, so I’ll mess ‘em up anyway (laughing). It’s Tobbi White, there’s Tommi White. There’s Dawn Jordan, which I called her married name. They’re the sopranos along with one singer that actually had a really bad accident when we used to be there. Her name is Lisa Jones, but I always still keep her in the set. And then on altos I normally have Latrice Pace, Kim McFarland and Anita Wilson. And on tenors, I normally have Blanche McAllister, Floyd Wilkerson, Mike Smith and, when he’s available, DeWayne Woods, as well as sometimes Jason Nelson. So it’s kind of like a super team of singers. They come in the studio and knock it out and it has been that way for quite some time.
Karen: Wow, when I heard the tracks, I said, “Oh my God, Donald has come back.” And I know my choir is going to be singing and singing all of his CD.
Donald: That’s what everybody is saying. They are like ‘there are so many songs we’re going to learn.’ And I was like, ‘That is great. I am glad to hear that.’ And again, I really am surprised. I mean, I am not, but I am. I mean it is not the work and the creativity of the work. It is just that I thought the record might be a little bit too heavy. So I am just like, ‘Oh, this will be for people who really go to bible study a lot.’ They’ll get it, but I really didn’t think it was going to be super commercial, and I didn’t really make it for that. I really made it because that teaching really, really blessed me and pushed me to go. What you’re feeling and what everybody is feeling, is what I felt when I was sitting there listening to the teaching. It just pushed me around.
Karen: Yes, and you can hear it, because a lot of times, artists are just singing or copying somebody else’s song, but you put the Word—the scripture. The scriptures, I can hear them, like 1 John, I can hear it.
Karen: And I am like, ‘oh yes!’ At times I’m just humming it down the street. I’m just humming it, humming it, humming it.
Donald: It just teaches how to use them [the scriptures] in everyday, regular life.
Karen: Right, exactly. And my last question for you, and then I am going to release you, what words of wisdom from Brother Donald, D, can you give the gospel community of up and coming artists; how to hold on to that dream and don’t give up. What would you say to them?
Donald: Okay, I would definitely tell the up and coming artists, the up and coming writers and producers, to really follow your heart and to really, really realize that the things that you’ve been dreaming about, God gave us those dreams. And that if you hold on to them, and if you really, really speak those things, you can speak yourself into the dreams that you dream about. And don’t ever let anyone change your speech. Really make sure that you don’t have anybody that will change your speech. If you are around people that are negative, that are changing your speech, get away from them. And get with someone who is speaking positively over you, who is keeping you in a positive space, and you will be surprised at how really rich your life would be.
Karen: Wow! Thank you again so much for your time today. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Karen: And have a wonderful day!
Donald: Alright, same to you. Hopefully we’ll see you at “How Sweet the Sound” again.