Donald Lawrence

In November 2022, the ISM welcomed Donald Lawrence to campus for a gospel concert and master class with students in Dr. Shelley’s course The Musicality of Black Preaching.

Lawrence is a songwriter, producer, composer, music/choir director, and recording artist. He is the guiding force behind such number one hits as Encourage Yourself, Back II Eden, and The Blessing of Abraham. Equally at home in both the inspirational and contemporary arenas, the multiple Grammy and Stellar Award winner has collaborated with a diverse roster, including such marquee names as Karen Clark Sheard, Donnie McKlurkin, Kirk Franklin, En Vogue, and Mary J. Blige.

At A Celebration of Gospel on November 17 at the Immanuel Baptist Church in New Haven, Lawrence performed with a community choir of students and singers drawn from New Haven and the surrounding areas. In his master class with students of Professor Shelley, Lawrence talked vividly about the differences between singing “in concert” and singing “in story,” highlighting how these differences inform the delivery of the music’s message by vocalists and by instrumentalists. Lawrence also spoke about his own deep love for the music of the Clark Sisters and his experiences serving as music director for the 2020 Lifetime film The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. Stay tuned for excerpts of Lawrence’s master class, which will be featured in future editions of the newsletter.

Dr. Braxton Shelley (left), Donald Lawrence (center) and YDS student Nedelka F. Prescod in Lawrence’s November masterclass. (Photo: Rondasia Curry)