In June, Grammy Award winning Gospel superstar Donald Lawrence culminated 20 years in the recording industry with live concert and DVD taping in Chicago that flowed like a master’s class in music.
Held at his church, Living Word Christian Center, Lawrence reinterpreted signature hits, recorded new material and was joined by Gospel and R&B all-stars on guest vocals. AlwaysAList.com traveled to Chicago with eOne Entertainment for the session.
Lawrence’s anniversary recording felt like the legendary David Foster’s “Hit Man: David Foster & Friends” concert tour. In addition to introducing new material performed by his stellar collective of singers, Company, Lawrence was joined on stage by R&B stars Faith Evans (‘Say A Prayer’), Coko of SWV (‘Mighty God’), Kelly Price (‘When The Saint’s Go To Worship’) and newcomer Rudy Currence (‘Instrument’); as well as Gospel greats Vanessa Bell Armstrong (‘Good News’), Natalie Grant (‘God’), Karen Clark-Sheard & Kierra Sheard (‘Giants’), the reunited Ted & Sheri (‘Celebrate’), and Bishop Hezekiah Walker (‘You Covered Me’).
Though there were many highlights throughout the night, jazz chanteuse Lalah Hathaway delighted the crowd with her arrangement of a song penned by Lawrence and previously recorded by Mary J. Blige, ‘Ultimate Relationship (A.M.).’ Effortlessly, the daughter of the late Donny Hathaway dazzled the crowd with her vocal acrobatics and enchanting tone, before transitioning into the song she recorded for Lawrence’s “I Speak Life” CD, ‘Don’t Forget To Remember.’
Choreographer Laurieann Gibson performed an expressive interpretative dance to Lawrence’s ‘Beautiful Feet,’ and Lawrence paid tribute to one of his inspirations Andrae Crouch with a marvelous arrangement of ‘Quiet Times.’
Lawrence and his singers remixed some of his gospel anthems like ‘The Blessing of Abraham’ and ‘Back II Eden,’ and introduced new songs like ‘The Gift’ and ‘The Rest,’ the latter of which become a recurring theme throughout the night.
In addition to the who’s who roster of artists that performed, the audience was full of superstar friends and supporters of Lawrence. Among those spotted by AlwaysAList.com included Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Richard Smallwood, Edwin Hawkins, Jonathan Nelson, Byron Cage, JJ Hairston, Youthful Praise, Wes Morgan, Stephen Hurd, James Hall, Ricky Dillard, VaShawn Mitchell, B. Chase Williams and Crystal Rucker—who Lawrence called on stage for an impromptu adlib.
Fans of Lawrence can begin to experience the amazing night of music when the Charlotte, North Carolina-bred singer/songwriter/producer/arranger will release the first installment from the session, “Vol. 1 (Best For Last)” in September via Lawrence’s new Quiet Water Entertainment partnership with eOne Entertainment.
The first single from the CD, ‘The Gift’ is currently impacting at Gospel radio outlets.
PHOTOS: Check out images from Lawrence’s 20th anniversary concert recording below.