“When I put my clothes on and my cowboy hat and walk out on that stage, I think I walk different and I carry myself different,” he offers. “I actually transcend into something else. It’s this persona I’ve created.” But when he’s hosting his radio show, he says, it’s one hundred percent Tracy. “When I leave the stage I take that person off,” he says. “I don’t carry him into the radio station with me.”
That no-frills Lawrence is as equally passionate about philanthropy as music or radio.
Last year, the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored Lawrence as its Philanthropist of the Year for his work on behalf of Nashville Rescue Mission. Funds raised by the singer through his annual Mission: Possible Turkey Fry and benefit concert have helped provide more than 75,000 meals to those in need.
“I get a great reward out of things I do at the mission,” Lawrence says. “I wish that we could help more people. I feel like we’re making a difference though. It’s become an integral part of Nashville. I never thought it would take off like it has. It’s something unique.” For Lawrence, giving back is simply a core tenant of his upbringing. “I grew up in a strong Christian family where we did a lot of things around the community,” he explains. “It’s really been something that I’ve done my whole life.”
Of course, Lawrence is nothing if not a never-ending creative mind. To that end, he’s constantly drumming up new musical material. He describes keeping legions of lyrics in
a notebook; when he gets that itch he takes them into the studio. “As a creative person you have to continue to grow,” he says of a constant pull to write and record new music.
“You have to exercise your mind. I enjoy that process. It’s very healthy for me. You get to purge all those things that you hold inside. You’re able to get a lot of that stuff out and it calms you down. At least it does for me. It’s extremely therapeutic.”
Ask Lawrence and he’ll tell you there’s never been a better time for pushing the boundaries of creativity in country music. “You have to continue to grow and evolve. I feel really good about the new record,” he says of his forthcoming LP. “I’m really excited about getting it out there.”
Lawrence’s new release, GOOD OLE DAYS, celebrates the country legend’s indelible mark on country traditionalism with an album of duets pairing a selection of his biggest hits with some of the genre’s contemporary superstars and newcomers, as well as an old friend or two who share the legend spotlight with him.
“There's such a hunger out there for the music from my era. And I hear that from so many people, so I felt like this was a good time to kind of blend the old and the new. My first commitment was from my buddy Tim McGraw, who chose “Time Marches On,” says Lawrence.
In addition to McGraw, the collaborative collection includes guest appearances from Jason Aldean, Brad Arnold (3 Doors Down), Big & Rich, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Easton Corbin, Dustin Lynch, Justin Moore, Kelli Pickler and Chris Young. Brad Arnold makes his country music debut on the title track “Good Ole Days,” which is one of the two original songs on the record.