Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Lonnie Norwood, Jr. grew up with an unquenchable passion for music and community service. He knew early on that both would be integral parts of his life's work. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Luther College where he studied under the late world renowned conductor, Weston Noble. He went on to earn a Master of Music degree with an emphasis in Voice from The Florida State University. Upon completion of his education, Lonnie taught K-12 music in Leon County (Tallahassee) and Chicago area schools, both public and private. He has enjoyed career highlights working as a versatile singer and arranger alongside such artists as Lizz Wright, Nona Hendryx, Nadine McKinnor, Ricky Dillard, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and a host of Chicago local artists.
Lonnie joined the artistic staff at Uniting Voices Chicago, formerly Chicago Children’s Choir, as a conductor in 2012 and opened its vivacious Englewood Neighborhood Choir (2013). His ensemble has performed for live television and radio broadcasts, at numerous city venues including the Chicago Symphony Center and The McCormick Convention Center, and have completed four national choir tours, including one to Puerto Rico learning and performing Bomba with the Ayala family of Loíza. Their most significant work, perhaps, is serving the community of Englewood in song at local churches, parks, shopping centers, block parties, schools, and assisted living facilities. Additionally, he has been appointed Director of Africana Studies and conductor of the Lincoln Park/DePaul Neighborhood Choir at Uniting Voices.
Lonnie is an in-demand clinician of traditional African American sacred music, helping educators and ensembles understand its historical significance, incomparable African influence, vocal techniques, and the Black liberation aspects behind the vast collection of music. Norwood holds workshops frequently with high schools, colleges and universities, and community choirs. He has recently lectured for various ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) branches and universities, including Harvard University, Temple University, and Indiana University. Lonnie collaborates frequently as a clinician and singer with international ensemble Village Harmony, including two tours to South Africa. Other educational outreach efforts include exchanges in Nassau, The Bahamas with members of the Bahamas National Youth Choir and Bahamian musicians, SongRoots (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) and the Vancouver Youth Choir. He has also authored articles along these lines of interests, including co-authoring a piece for the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal (October 2018).
Every avenue of arts, outreach, and advocacy Lonnie embarks on is credited to his church upbringing. He established Audacious Praise (AP) in 2015, a multicultural arts outreach organization creating accessible, inter-generational programming that impacts social & spiritual awareness in marginalized communities. Audacious Praise is best known for one of South Shore’s finest inspirational open mic showcases, Fresh Faith Fridays, and has garnered much success in its highly regarded outreach initiative educating in the art and roots of gospel, ChicaGO REACH Gospel Workshop. Lonnie's 1st EP entitled ROOTED, a collection of songs tracing the spiritual, musical, and emotional journey of Trans-Atlantic African ancestry, was released in August, 2021. He was recently lauded by Chicago Reader as Best Music Teacher in Chicago for 2023.
More information can be found at www.lonnienorwood.com.