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 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 numerous 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 Chicago’s Youth In Unity.
Lonnie joined the artistic staff at Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC) as a conductor in 2012 and opened the vivacious Englewood Neighborhood Choir (2013). His ensembles have performed at numerous city venues, including the Chicago Symphony Center, The Museum of Science & Industry, The Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, and The McCormick Convention Center. They have done three national tours and have been featured on WGN Channel 9 & ABC 7 News respectively. Their most significant work, perhaps, is in serving the community of Englewood through song at local churches, parks, shopping centers, block parties, schools, and assisted living facilities. He has recently been appointed Director of African Diasporic Music & Studies at CCC.
Lonnie is an in-demand clinician of 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 with high schools, colleges and universities, community choirs. He has recently lectured for various ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) branches in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Lonnie collaborates frequently as a clinician and singer with international ensemble Village Harmony, including a life-changing 2017 tour to South Africa. Other educational outreach efforts include exchanges in Nassau, The Bahamas with members of the Bahamas National Youth Choir and Bahamian musicians, BFli Young Artists Camp at ETA Theater Chicago, and with SongRoots (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) teaching gospel music and spirituals. He has also begun authoring articles along these lines of interests, including co-authoring a recent piece for the American Choral Directors Association’s Choral Journal (October 2018). Upcoming engagements include instructing a gospel music course for Harvard University's Choral Collegium in 2021.
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 great interest in its highly regarded outreach initiative educating in the art of gospel, ChicaGO Reach Gospel Workshop, which successfully reopened virtually in October, 2020. He serves as lead musician and worship leader at Bryn Mawr Community Church in South Shore, under the direction of esteemed vocalist, Felicia Coleman-Evans.