‘Oh Happy Day’ is a 1967 gospel arrangement recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers that became a global hit in 1969. This song put music lovers on notice by letting the world know that the gospel was here to stay. ‘Oh Happy Day’ made an international impact with the help of a group of singers from the California area. One of those singers, Lawrence Hill, has a story that begins on another happy day.
Keep the Faith dives into the life of Lawrence Hill, a singer, an advocate, a writer and so much more!
The lives of Reverend Dr. William and Deolla Hill would never be the same after they became proud parents of a baby boy. This happy day was followed by many more as their son continued to grow. They soon realized there was something special about their son. Lawrence was a little boy that wielded a heart-warming gift, the ability to sing. This gift would serenade his neighbors in the early hours of the morning and set the tone of worship as he sang before the congregation at church.
He wasted no time in consuming himself with musical instruments. A dedication and commitment that would lead him into playing in citywide orchestras. Lawrence spent time singing with a group called The Heavenly Tones in the early sixties. Here he sang with now Grammy award-winning Gospel singer Tremaine Hawkins. Lawrence also found time to learn to play the piano which led him into songwriting.
Lawrence joined the Northern California State Youth Choir in his high school years. He studied Political Science and Economics at Linfield College in Oregon. In 1969 he would take a break from college to go on tour with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. From there he formed a group made up of college students from the Hawkins singer who could not travel with Edwin called the “New Generation Singers.”
Lawrence moved to Los Angeles in the early seventies with plans to expand his music career. He became a staff writer for Sky Hill Publishing and Shelter/Capital Records. Lawrence would go on to write for Mary Russell and tour with Mary and her husband Leon. They toured together for 9 months.
In 1974, Lawrence would indulge in his other passion of advocacy by accepting a position at the County of Los Angeles Communications Department. He spent 5 years in this department and another 35 with Child Support Services of the District Attorney’s Office. Lawrence served as a Shop Steward for the Service Employee International Union for 30 years.
In 1976 through 1978 Lawrence worked with the late great Mark Bolen and his companion Gloria Jones.
With Richard Jones success was achieved with the Gloria’s Album “Wind Storm” and “Vixon”. They pinned several songs on the Album. Also, he co-wrote several songs for the British group Gonzales writing the title song “Shipwrecked”. That album was certified Platinum with the hit song “Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet”.
In the late seventies Lawrence recorded with Charles May as a featured artist on his Deliverance LP. He also recorded with Ricky Grundy as a lead singer on two CD’s in 1994 and 95.
His creativity and vision led him to appearing and writing for television and radio commercials. In 1993, Lawrence co-starred alongside legendary Daryl Coley in the Gospel opera called “Job” as Lucifer. The play was performed in Los Angeles and Stockholm, Sweden.
In the mid-nineties, Lawrence attained commercial success as a writer, vocalist, and actor for the acclaimed television show “Touched by an Angel”. He served as Choir master for several episodes. Lawrence was also an actor on the “Sister, Sister” TV series as well as “The Doors’’ movie. He worked as a part of the vocal sound design team for the movies “Eve’s Bayou” and “Caveman Valentine”. He also starred in the stage plays “Dark Legends in Blood” and “Voices”.
There was an evolution of music in the early 2000s that affected artists and their ability to get signed to labels. Lawrence decided to create Inheritance Records, a specialty label in 2012. After all, he knew music and understood how the music business worked from years of experience.
Lawrence recently released ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love’ which is a much-needed call to bring peace during these troubling times. He delivers a message of love with this single. His smooth and reassuring voice creates an atmosphere of unity that is sure to resonate with people of all backgrounds. This Minister of Music continues to serve churches and people with a legacy that is far from over. Learn more about Lawrence Hill at his official website inheritancerecords.com.
Ben Harrell is the founder of Ambitions of a Writer and the creator of Billboard and Bookings 101. Find out more at BenjHarrell.com.
Written by: Benjamin Harrell