Interview: Your Righteous Mind
GOSPELflava.com:You chose the title YRM, Your Righteous Mind for the album. What is the story to that?
Donald Lawrence: One of the reasons that I give it this title is for people to really realize who they are. You have a place that you were thinking before you fell and help you realize that's who you were destined to be. You have to fill yourself with scripture daily to get you through life. I am not talking from a "churchified" perspective. I do this to get things off of me, people off of me and it's to help people realize what they purpose in life is. I also want people to realize that life is a gift and we're not meant to live it badly. We can enjoy life because it is a gift from God.
GOSPELflava.com:You did a remake of Commissioned's "Strange Land" featuring Keith Staten. Why did you want to do that remake?
Donald Lawrence: I love that song! I had so much fun doing that song. This particular album, I didn't stress about doing a whole lot of everything. I just did what I wanted to do. I wanted to cover some songs that I love. "Strange Land" was one of my favorite Commissioned songs, and to get Keith to come back and sing it was great. He was one of my favorite singers.
GOSPELflava.com:Have you ever thought about doing a Broadway play? If so, what would it be and who would you use?
Donald Lawrence: I've only thought about it all the time (laughing). I have a stage version of "Bible Stories" and it's very much at a workshop stage. I think it would be such an outstanding thing. I'm a theater guy. I love to see everything on Broadway or in Chicago because Chicago's theater scene is just as strong. I never really planned on doing records. I wanted to do Broadway plays. That's one of my future goals.
GOSPELflava.com:You have the wonderful song, the "I Am Factor" on this project. How did this song come about?
Donald Lawrence: I was on the road and my church needed me to come and do a performance with the church choir that Sunday. I was really tired and I was like, "You guys, I don't know if I'm going to be able to make it there." I got home by 5:30, showered and made it a point to be there about 7:15. I ended up getting there at about 7:35 because it was so tight. They were calling me and I was supposed to do a song with them titled, "Released". I told them that I was really tired and that I was not going to stay long. When I saw that Bishop Tudor Bismark was there, I said, "This is what I'm going to do: I'm going to stay in the back and watch it on the monitors". I
GOSPELflava.com:You have some amazing singers such as Kim McFarland, The White Sisters, Anita Wilson, Floyd Wilkerson, Jason Nelson, Blanche McCallister and others in your group. Tell us what the company does for your ministry?
Donald Lawrence: Things just happened. I don't even think that I searched the "Company". When I signed the deal with Zomba to do I Speak Life, I decided that I would put together some session singers. They would come in the studio and do my background vocals. I would travel with them. I heard Anita Wilson sing with Vashawn Mitchell here in Chicago, and I thought her voice was very soulful. I asked her to do a set with me. Over time, it kind of came together. We're like a musical family. They think like me and it takes no time for us to go in the studio and do what they do. I will never say that I have the best on the planet. I will dare to say that they are among the best singers on the planet. We have a great time. Everyone is equally great at what they do individually, but when we all come together we do this. I try to support their individual endeavors because they support what I do.
GOSPELflava.com:Your music and writing is a breath of fresh air in the sense that you do not use a lot of clichés.
Donald Lawrence: I try not to do that, but I don't even hear it that way. The thing that piques my interest would be an "I Am Factor". I used to always say that I walk on the "left side of the page". I just always have. The thing that nobody's doing is the thing that I am most interested in. I enjoy titles and I've just never been a cliché type of guy.
GOSPELflava.com:Another cover that you remake is "Through The Wire", originally performed by Chaka Khan. You enlisted the White sisters (Tobbi and Tommi) to sing lead. What made you want to do that song and use those singers?
Donald Lawrence: I told them that I wanted them to do a duet and I told them exactly how I wanted them to sing it. I wanted them to sing all of it in unison with each other. What made me really do this song was when I went to Bible Study one night and Pastor (Bill) Winston was talking about the "end time disciple". He talked about how the "end time disciple" would stick with it even if the ministry did something that would hurt their feelings. Because they knew that their purpose was to be in a particular place, they would stick with the ministry straight through the "fire down to the wire". That made the song speak to me from a different perspective. The "end time disciple" has to have a level of staying through hard times. I didn't change the song. I wanted Tobbi and Tommi them to sing it from a place of sticking together as sisters. In the industry when you're talented, people want to break you up. I told them that even though they are great separately, they're stronger together. I just always have a deeper meaning of why I do certain songs. People are giving up quicker and we're in a time where we need "end time disciples" who stay when it's up or down. They honor their vow. That's what made me want to do this song.
GOSPELflava.com:To piggyback on the subject of an "end time disciple", what would you say to people in the industry and people who are not in the industry about serving and being in the local church?
Donald Lawrence: I think people see a lot of stuff and they get discouraged. Then they may not want to go. It's about why you're at the local church. If you understand why you're there, I don't think that anyone can make you leave. I have to be there and they're people that need to hear from me. It's some people that need to hear from me. When you look at it from that perspective, you won't let an indiscretion from a pastor cause you to leave. The pastor is not the church. They're just as human as you are and they have struggles. The bigger question is: Is anyone getting helped or inspired? Was there someone who was about the commit suicide and are no longer going to do so. That's the big picture to me. I do understand because you trust people and you feel like they sort of taken advantage of you. I think you have to trust the messenger less and trust the One who gave the message to them more.
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