Let’s get “Back to Eden”, Live on top of the world, “The Best is Yet to Come”, Let go of your natural thinking, embrace “Your Righteous Mind”. If any of those songs ring a bell, then you know who I’m talking about. But if you don’t, you are late to the game. Donald Lawrence has been around since the 90’s and has worked with many artists like The Clark Sisters, Lalah Hathaway, Leandria Johnson, and many others. Donald Lawrence, like many others have studies The Clark Sisters music for many years, but no one has mastered their sound quite like he has. For as long as he can remember, he felt the need to do music. "Being a creative”, as he said was something that was in his blood and he didn’t have a choice. He was the music director for the recent Lifetime film, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel which showcases the lives of the legendary Clark Sisters and how their success came to be.
When asked how it felt doing the music for the film, he said “It was so much fun because I got to recreate a time that I was just so in love with them.” He became obsessed with them at a young age, especially Twinkie and her ability to write. Each sister possessed a different quality that he could learn from. He was given two weeks to get five strangers together to sound as close to the Clark Sisters as he could. And might I add, he did an amazing job. There was some pressure, not just on him but everyone involved to make sure the film was done correctly. Being that this was the first Gospel family film, they all wanted to make sure their story was portrayed in best way possible and he wanted the sound to be authentic. From an outside point of view, I wanted to know how he would describe the “Clark sound”. He said it would “be like a mixture of expensive cheeses”, with each voice bringing a different “taste” of cheese to the mixture. Karen being a sharp cheddar, Dorinda being a Gouda cheese, Twinkie would be a deep richer cheese, and Jacky as a mozzarella cheese, which helps to balance everything out smoothly. As a cheese lover, I understood exactly what he meant as he described them. I mentioned that it’s hard to pick out one sister when they’re all singing. Occasionally, you can hear a voice but their blend remains untapped. He said, “The trick to that is everyone is Twinkies voice on a different part.” Because she wrote the songs and teaches them, they all have her voice with their own personality to it. That there would be the “Clark sound”.
I was interested to know what his favorite Clark Sisters song was, if he could choose. He said it would be the song titled “Cast Your Cares” which talks about how animals don’t worry about anything because they know the creator holds them. If he cares that much for the birds and other animals, we should put all our cares on him also. The lyrics touched him the most, so much that he covered the song with the Tri-City Singers. He complimented Twinkie’s writing. He said that she writes from scripture, which a lot of people don’t do. That sets their songs apart from everyone else’s. We began to talk about his music and finding his own inspiration to write songs. Donald, who has been in the music industry for over 20 years, says he never rushes a song. If he hasn’t finished it, it simply means he hasn’t lived enough. He said that inspiration is all around us, its life. And that’s where he draws his songs from, experience. He doesn’t get “burned out” but he said he does experience dry spells.
When those times come, he’s learned to just relax and take a break. “You can’t force a song”, he says, “Usually when I don’t have it, I don’t do it.” As a creative person, it’s easy to feel empty because you’re constantly pouring into others, but as Donald said, it’s also important to take time and live because that’s where your inspiration will come from. We also briefly talked about working with Leandria Johnson on his most recent chart topper “Deliver Me (This is my Exodus). He gave a brief background on how the song came to be and how he felt she was the perfect singer not only because of her powerful voice, but also because of her struggles that she’s shared with fans on television. This song is definitely powerful and something we can all relate to. Sometimes we can be our worst enemy and we need to be delivered from ourselves. After a brief spoken word from Donald, Leandria sings, “Lord, Deliver me, Cause all I seem to do is hurt me”. Donald continues speaking throughout the song, “God rescued me from myself, from my overthinking”, which is something most of can relate to. This lead into the topic of faith and believing beyond your thoughts and the thoughts of others. He quoted one of his pastors, “Faith lives beyond natural senses. You can’t touch it, see it, taste it…it lives beyond sense knowledge, in another realm. What you can see doesn’t make faith and what makes faith doesn’t make sense.” It’s important to not let people talk you out of big dreams because it doesn’t make sense. He said, “Tell them I’m not making sense, I’m making faith.” We continued to talk more about his music and journey. He recently released a new album with the Tri-City Singers titled Goshen, which features the single “Deliver Me”.
He mentioned the album was supposed to be set to stage for Broadway, but since the recent world events has thus been postponed. But do keep an eye out for that next year. Donald was very proud of the way the film was received and believes that people got something from the film. If you haven’t already, make sure to check your local listings for The Clark Sisters Movie, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel and Donald’s recent album Goshen. Check out the full interview below!