“He is a real pleasure to work with and a ton of fun! He never fails to disappoint in entertaining the crowds.”
- David Gentry, Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator, Champaign Park District
Vocalist legend, Lonnie Lester is a self taught composer, arranger and singer with enormous talent, and well known and respected in the Indianapolis music community. He has written and performed music since he was a child in Gary, Indiana. He first performed in the Indianapolis area in 1969, and in 1974 made Indianapolis his home. In 2000, he released his first CD “In a Perfect World” that includes four original songs. His second CD “The Many Flavors of Lonnie Lester” was released in 2003. It includes one original song, and artfully displays Lonnie’s wide range of talent. In 2008 a 2 CD collection of R&B/Soul/Motown, “Talk to Me” and “Let’s Do It” was released along with a 1986 live from the archives “IN Touch” CD. Also in 2008 his concert “Lets Get Together” was broadcast on WFYI Channel 20 TV Public Broadcasting.
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Lonnie was born in Dorena, Missouri in 1937, the oldest of thirteen children. In 1946 his family moved to Gary, IN. Encouraged by his grandmother, he started singing in church at the age of six. As a teenager he performed with doo-wop (a style of music popularized in the 1950′s sung in harmony) groups in and around Gary. In his early twenties he cut two R&B singles “You Can’t Go” & Ain’t That a Shame” in Chicago with the Chuck Danzy band on the NuTone label. (These records are current dance floor favorites in England & Australia, and much sought after by R&B collectors). After being on the road with Bill Nixon and Jr. Walker, and serving a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he ended up in San Francisco in 1959. While there he opened for R&B stars, Sam & Dave; the Drifters; Aretha Franklin; Johnny Mathis; Little Willy John and many others. When he came to Indianapolis in 1969, he performed at the Honey Dripper Lounge, the End Zone, and the Vineyards. During the early 70′s, he formed a five-piece band “Lonnie Lester & Touch”. In the 80′s he traveled the country with his band in addition to performing in the Indianapolis area. Over the years he has donated time to the Women’s Prison, Riley Children’s Hospital, Veterans Hospital, and many other community organizations. He retired from the music business full-time in 1991, but continues to perform part-time, appearing at clubs, weddings, corporate parties, etc.
In April 2002 Governor Frank O’Bannon appointed Lonnie a “Sagamore of the Wabash”. This award is the highest honor the Governor of Indiana bestows. It is a personal tribute given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the State or the Governor. In addition Lonnie was honored by Mayor Bart Peterson with a Proclamation declaring April 6, 2002 Lonnie Lester Day, in recognition of his contribution to the city.
Lonnie is currently employed full-time with Blackburn Architects in Indianapolis.