PARKERSBURG — Family influence and the desire to create a unique style of music gave a Parkersburg resident the opportunity to sign with a Nashville record label.
At a young age, Patrick Lawrence developed a love of classic country and bluegrass thanks to his grandfather. As Lawrence got older, his musical tastes evolved and with the help of his stepfather and cousin, he reached what he describes as his lifelong dream.
“When I was a teenager, I started playing drums and from there, I learned how to songwrite and play the guitar when I was 16. I wanted to be a modern country singer at first, but I kind of developed my own style,” Lawrence said.
His style of music is referred to as outlaw country, a blend of bluegrass and classic country.
“That’s how I got into the bluegrass and outlaw country; over the years, I really loved the classic country style and I loved bluegrass. I wanted to do both, and it kind of created my style,” he said. “I write three styles — bluegrass, country and more of a blues style.”
Lawrence developed his tastes even further when he worked at a classic country radio station during his high school years. Beginning with a label called Country Roads Records, Lawrence’s music caught the attention of Nashville Entertainment Weekly Records.
“I was sitting here in my home, making music and writing songs, just doing it for fun. I get this opportunity, and it’s just kind of luck; I knew the right people at the right time,” he said.
Several fellow musicians helped Lawrence along the way, but he said without the influence of his English teacher, Jon Felton, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
The person who gave Lawrence the most inspiration and teaching is his stepfather.
“My stepfather Joe (Swick) probably taught me more on the guitar than anybody. … He’s a songwriter, Elvis impersonator, singer and published author. He’s always been really big into entertainment. I really have to give him a lot of credit,” Lawrence said.
In the coming months, Lawrence will be working with After Dark Studios in Georgia to get his music out and searching for band members. He wants to work on building his brand and possibly go on tour.
Over the years, Lawrence was able to continue to pursue his music career despite issues with his eyesight, but he’s finding that his vision issues are less of an obstacle than he imagined.
“That was my big concern when I first got signed, (but) the guy didn’t care,” he said. “There are good people in this world who don’t care; they want to get somewhere with their music, and they’ll make it happen.”
Another hurdle for Lawrence is finding people who want to play his style of music.
“They want to play a modern style; they want to play the same thing everybody else is playing,” Lawrence said. “Most of my stuff is original.”
Lawrence said there aren’t a lot of people in the younger generation who want to play his style of music.
“People who play my style are older and don’t want to travel. I understand that, but trying to find younger people who do, it’s a challenge. They don’t play that style or they want to have their own band,” he said.
So far, Lawrence has a dedicated drummer but is still looking for more band members.
When he’s not pursuing his music career, Lawrence is fulfilling his other lifelong dream by training to be a systems administrator with the company IC-CAP.
“In January, I got promoted to systems administrator in training, and in May, I got my first record deal; then in June, I got my second,” he said. “My two dreams in life, I got. Either way, if one doesn’t work out and the other does, I’m happy because I’m doing the two things in life I’ve wanted to do.”
Lawrence also attended West Virginia University at Parkersburg and earned a board of governor’s associate’s degree and two certificates, one in business technology and the other in general education.
The big changes in his life this year have made Lawrence grateful for his life and his opportunities.
“I really love my life and I love my friends and family. I never saw myself being as happy as I am right now,” he said.
People can follow Patrick Lawrence on social media for more information about him and his career.
Candice Black be reached at [email protected]