Doyle Lawson: "I Use My Guys. I'm Not a Jealous Leader."
At age 71, Doyle Lawson has been playing music for nearly 55 years. During that time, he has recorded almost 40 albums with his band Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Lawson has been honored for his work in music on numerous occasions, including at least 14 awards from the International Bluegrass Music Awards, eight Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass for America awards, and five Dove awards.
Lawson has also been nominated for four previous Grammy awards as well as a nomination for this year’s Grammy Awards, which will be televised nationally on Feb. 15. Lawson says it’s always a surprise when he gets nominated. “That’s the granddaddy of all the awards,” he says of the Grammy awards, adding that it’s an honor to be nominated.
The most recent nomination for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver is in the Best Bluegrass Album category. The well-known bluegrass band was nominated for their most recent CD, In Session, which was released by Mountain Home Music Group.
Lawson says he is proud of the new recording and proud of his guys. “I use my guys,” he says. “I’m not a jealous leader.”
Lawson says he loves harmonies. That’s something listeners of the In Session CD will hear a lot of. “I have a wide variety of musical taste…I think there’s something for everybody.”
One of the songs on In Session is “You You You,” a song that Lawson heard as a kid. Another song on the album is “Wilma Walker,” a song Lawson calls a happy positive approach to one person being in love and trying to win the girl’s hand.
Lawson says he will sometimes play new songs live before the CD comes out, but he doesn’t do that as much as he has in the past. He said things have changed and people might jump on a song and put it on a record if they hear it.
“I may do it once or twice to get a reaction, but for the most part, I’ve changed that policy,” Lawson says. “There’s so many ways a good song can get away from you if you are not careful.”
Another thing that has changed since Lawson started in the music business is the introduction of social media as a way to reach out to fans. “It’s certainly quicker,” Lawson says. “In the time it takes you to say what you want to say, it’s done”
Earlier in his career, Lawson recalls sending out four newsletters a year. “It got to be pretty expensive,” he says.
Having been in the business nearly 55 years, Lawson has played in a lot of different venues. Does he have a favorite venue? He says he doesn’t care if he is playing in an outdoor park, a theater, or whatever the case may be. “I am there to entertain people,” he says. “We try to make them feel good, maybe thoughtful and reflective.”
Lawson says one of the most enjoyable things that he has had a chance to do is record “So Beautiful So What” with Paul Simon. He says he went up to New Jersey to record the song. “Watching a genius at work was an uplifting and enlightening experience for me,” Lawson says.
Another memorable moment was the first time Lawson played on the Grand Ole Opry when he was 18 years old. He says he grew up in the days when there was some television in the home, but not a lot. “Radio was still the king of entertainment then,” Lawson says. “On a good night, we could get a clear signal and hear the Grand Ole Opry.”
“When I heard Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, that changed my life forever,” Lawson says. “I’ve never wanted to do anything else from that time on.”
When Lawson was growing up, his father sang in an acapella quartet. “When I left to pursue a career in music, he was still playing in that quartet,” he says. “They sang because they love to sing.”
Lawson has done quite a bit of gospel music during his career. He says when you sing gospel music, you are singing about a better world than where we are. “With gospel, it’s more of a spiritual thing.”