Donald Lawrence (born May 4, 1961, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA) is an American gospel music songwriter, record producer and artist. He studied at Cincinnati Conservatory, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in music. While in Cincinnati, he was also the Minister of Music at the Southern Baptist Church on Reading Road. The multiple Grammy and Stellar Award winner has collaborated with a diverse roster, as vocal coach to the R&B group En Vogue, musical director for Stephanie Mills, songwriter forThe Clark Sisters, and collaborator with a host of artists including Peabo Bryson, Kirk Franklin, Karen Clark Sheard, Donnie McClurkin, and Mary J. Blige.
Lawrence took on The Tri-City Singers after a friend vacated his position as musical director. (NOTE: The three cities that The Tri-City Singers come from are Spartanburg, SC,Gastonia, NC, and Charlotte, NC. The group debuted in 1993 with A Songwriter’s Point Of View on a then-brand-new independent record label called GospoCentric Records. The set debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Charts. The group’s follow-up release Bible Stories would top those same charts when it arrived in 1995. It was the first to be billed as Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers and featured black church-ubiquitous hits such as “A Message For The Saints”, “I Am God” and “Stranger”. The album was released on Lawrence’s newly minted label Crystal Rose Records which was distributed through Sparrow Records.
In 1997, Donald Lawrence produced the live portion of Karen Clark Sheard’s Grammy-nominated Finally Karen debut. Lawrence & Tri-City also released the seasonal Hello Christmas the same year. Later, Lawrence signed a contract with the Island Records imprint Island Inspirational. Though a live recording did take place for release, the album never materialized.
In 2000, Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers signed to EMI Gospel. To promote the new album, a maxi CD of the lead single “Testify” to the mainstream. House remixes byJunior Vasquez sent the song to #33 on Billboard’s Mainstream Dance Charts. When tri-city4.com was finally released in late summer 2000, the set peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Charts and #13 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Charts. The album also got a profile boost from the all-star standout “God’s Favor”, featuring vocal turns from Karen Clark Sheard, Kim Burrell, and Kelly Price.