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About the Legend

Artist / Author / Composer/ Arranger/ Producer/ Recording Artist/ Instructor

John E. Lawrence, a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti, is one of Michigan’s most talented and respected guitarists. John is gained national recognition as a guitar instructor with his contract with Mel Bay Publications, Inc., one of the country’s largest publishers of instructional materials; writing a celebrated series of guitar instruction books.

John became an instructor at Washtenaw Community College where he taught for 27 years and was the Director of the Music Performance Program. John also developed the “Living Legends Series.” The series provided a stage for famous recording artists to be interviewed and share their life stories in front of an audience.

Among Mr. Lawrence’s many accomplishments was a performance at Carnegie Hall. In addition to touring throughout the United States and performing at Jazz Festivals such as: Boston Globe, New Orleans, and Montreux Detroit, he has also performed in Haiti, Surinam, Germany, and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Some of John’s sound recordings include “The Supreme Dream,” “Old Smooth,” “Summer Nights,” “All By Myself,” “Merry Christmas from John E. Lawrence,” “Winter Wonder Land,” and “A Solo Guitar Christmas.”

For more information, please e-mail him at johnelaw@sbcglobal.net.



"I have known Johnny Lawrence for nearly 25 years, first as a guitar instructor, then later as a good friend, a valued relationship which continues to this day. Although I am no longer a formal student of Johnny’s, I continue  to learn from him and I expect that to continue. Johnny is without question one of the most disciplined individuals I have ever met, and also one of the most goal-oriented and focused. Johnny has always known what he wanted to do with his life, and there was nothing that was ever going to get in his way.I can also say that Johnny is one of the most artistically gifted individuals that I know, because he is. But as formidable as his talents are, I place them second behind his focus and discipline. I have met many gifted and talented individuals over the years, and some have gone far while others have not. Those who have succeeded like Johnny – and that number is few – have done so not so much because of their gifts but because of their focus and disciplined commitment to craft.

Johnny is an excellent teacher, and I’m sure any of his students will say the same. But it’s not just his ability to effectively share and communicate his knowledge about how to play the guitar or to perform on stage. What makes Johnny special is quite simply the example he sets as the kind of person he is.

Want to know what it takes to be a successful all around musician? Watch Johnny be Johnny."

Keith Owens

Deputy Communications Director, Office of the Wayne County Executive

Former Senior Editor of the Michigan Chronicle



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