ALL THE KING’S MEN: (From left) Israel Houghton, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, and Marvin Sapp.
Earlier this week, audience members of The View were given a taste of Sunday mornin’ on the ABC talk show, as urban gospel heavyweights Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin, and Israel Houghton blew the roof off in a Gospel Brunch-inspired segment. The multiplatinum Grammy, Dove, and Stellar Award-winning crew showcased their talents and their love for the Lord Tuesday, as they spoke candidly about their ministries, their struggles, and their recently announced tour, cleverly titled “The Kings Men.”
Franklin, who partnered with mega-concert promoter Live Nation to bring the tour together, said, “This is their (Live Nation) first time in history doing a tour like this, and so we’re calling it inspirational entertainment. So I had to go get my bros that I knew could really fill the vision, and I’m very humbled and honored that they said yes.”
View co-host Sherri Shepherd asked the quartet to weigh in regarding the tragedy and pain surrounding the shootings in Colorado.
Sapp, still grieving the recent deaths of both his father and beloved wife, said, “My position has always been in these types of situations the only thing that can really get us through is prayer. The Bible is right where it says, ‘If my people, which are called by my name would humble themselves and pray, turn from their wicked ways, seek my face, then I will hear from heaven.’ He’ll forgive our sin and heal our land.
“If we’re going to be healed, it’s going to take a corporate group of individuals that really have a clear understanding of prayer and really seeking God for direction and focus.”
Jamie Grace, a new up and coming Grammy nominated Christian Artist also performed her smash hit, “Hold Me,” and also shared her testimony as a youth on fire for Christ. The 20-year-old spoke about growing up as a preacher’s kid and singing at church, and the very real struggles she faced early on in life.
Diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at age 11, Grace said that when she’s performing everything seems to settle. “When I was growing up it was difficult for me, but finding music was the best thing ever.”
She added: “Everyday when I wake up, whether I’m writing a song or whether I’m hanging out with my friends, or whether I’m doing a concert, I just pray that everything that I do glorifies God.”
Grace, along with Sapp, Franklin, McClurkin, and Houghton, turned The View set into a sanctuary of praise — and proved that although gospel music comes in many shapes and sizes, the message remains the same.
A REASON TO SMILE: (from left) Co-host Dorinda Clark-Cole, Kirk Franklin, and co-host Marvin Sapp rejoice and dance at the 2012 Stellar Awards. (Photo: Rick Diamond/Central City Productions & The FrontPage Firm)
Despite how battles often rage between the traditional music of hymns and choir-based anthems versus the upbeat, secular-sounding groove of contemporary worship songs, artists from all facets of gospel music declared it a truce last week as they gathered for the 27th Annual Stellar Awards.
Newcomer VaShawn Mitchell took home the most awards, including Artist, Male Vocalist, and Contemporary Male of the Year. His 2011 album, Triumphant, won for Praise and Worship CD of the Year.
“It’s a great feeling when you know it’s God who stamped his approval on your turn,” he said soon after the show’s taping. Mitchell, who has worked with several heavy hitters in the gospel industry prior to his more recent popularity, said he had come to previous Stellar Award shows as a seat filler, a person designated to sit in prominent seats that are temporarily empty. “It’s amazing to see the process from being the seat filler to winning six awards.” That’s not something a person can do by himself, Mitchell said. “Only God can do it.”
And only He gets the glory for what you accomplish, said another newcomer, Jessica Reedy. A season 2 finalist on BET’s Sunday Best, Reedy said the whole purpose of singing gospel music was God himself. “If you want self-gain and you think your talent is all that, you might not want to do this because God will humble you,” she said during the show. “And when He humbles you, it doesn’t feel good.”
In most cases, it was clear that most — though not all — of the artists exhibited humility despite their successes. Kirk Franklin, who has received 25 Stellars along with numerous other honors for his work, picked up four awards for CD of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Song of the Year. The latter award, though, he shared onstage with Darius Paulk, songwriter for the song that Mitchell made popular, “Nobody Greater.”
“Just at that moment, it just felt right because [“Nobody Greater”] had ministered to me so much,” Franklin said. “It was important to acknowledge just the great body of work that it is.”
Franklin said he was thankful to still be a part of the gospel music community and that his music, which won Song of the Year in 1993 for “Why We Sing,” has an impact today. “I’m just glad (the music is) still speaking to somebody dealing with something that somebody may be facing.”
GREAT HONOR: "Nobody Greater" singer VaShawn Mitchell receives the Artist of the Year trophy from CeCe Winans at the Stellar Awards. (Photo: Rick Diamond / Central City Productions & The FrontPage Firm)
Other winners included well-known pioneers of gospel music the Rance Allen Group, who received two Stellars for Traditional Group and Quartet of the Year. Traditional performances by Richard Smallwood and Issac Caree from Men of Standard, paying tribute to choirmaster John P. Kee, underscored the enduring popularity of choral gospel music. Smallwood, who later said he thought his gift for songwriting had dried up after his mother’s death in 2005, performed a song from his latest album, Promises.
Kee, who cried during renditions of his hit songs, including “Standing in the Need of Prayer” and “He’ll Welcome Me,” received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award for his three decades of contributions to the gospel music industry. “When we really realize what this music is about, tonight meant a whole lot,” Kee said. “It not only showed what we’ve accomplished, but that there’s more to accomplish.”
A variety of artists said they were working on new projects and music-related ventures due out this year. Among them were Mitchell, Karen Clark-Sheard, Kurt Carr, and Artist of the Year nominee Earnest Pugh. Marvin Sapp, who co-hosted the show with Dorinda Clark Cole, is working on a book entitled, I Win.
As host, Sapp said the show turned out well and he encouraged people to tune in in their respective markets. “I was very pleased with the looks of the show. Tell everybody and their mama they should watch it.”
Beginning January 21, the award show will air in more than 130 markets through February 26. The GMC network will broadcast the awards nationally on February 11. Check TheStellarAwards.com for airdates in your area.
2012 Stellar Award Winners
Artist of the Year
Song of the Year
“I Smile” | Kirk Franklin
Male Vocalist of the Year
Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year
Group/Duo of the Year
New Artist of the Year
CD of the Year
Kirk Franklin | Hello Fear
Choir of the Year
Mississippi Mass Choir
Producer of the Year
Kirk Franklin for Hello Fear
Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year
Traditional Group/Duo of the Year
The Rance Allen Group
Contemporary Male of the Year
Traditional Male of the Year
Contemporary Female of the Year
Traditional Female of the Year
Contemporary CD of the Year
Kirk Franklin | Hello Fear
Traditional CD of the Year
Smokie Norful | How I Got Over: Songs that Carried Us
Urban Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year
VaShawn Mitchell | “Nobody Greater”
Music Video of the Year – Short Format
VaShawn Mitchell | “Nobody Greater” (VaShawn Mitchell)
Music Video of the Year – Long Format
Deitrick Haddon | Church on the Moon
Traditional Choir of the Year
Mississippi Mass Choir
Contemporary Choir of the Year
Shekinah Glory Ministry
Instrumental Gospel CD of the Year
Moses Tyson, Jr. | Music Remastered & Sacred Organ
Special Event CD of the Year
Bishop Paul Morton | Bishop Morton Celebrates 25 Years of Music
Rap, Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year
Lecrae | Rehab: The Overdose
Children’s Project of the Year
Teen Pure N Heart | Pure N Heart Live
Quartet of the Year
The Rance Allen Group
Recorded Music Packaging of the Year
Martha Munizzi for Make It Loud (Martha Munizzi)
Praise and Worship CD of the Year
VaShawn Mitchell | Triumphant
Spoken Word CD of the Year
Selah | Look At You Loving Me
RADIO STATIONS OF THE YEAR
KJLH 102.3 FM – Los Angeles
WLOU 1350 AM – Louisville, Ken.
WHAL 95.7 FM/1460 AM – Memphis
KOKA 980 AM – Shreveport, La.
Internet Gospel Radio Station of the Year
GospelSynergy.com1radio.com, Chicago, IL
Gospel Announcer of the Year
John Hannah – WGRB, Inspiration 1390, Chicago, IL
Like Kool-Aid and hot combs, Ebony and Jet have been fixtures in African American households for decades. As a little girl I dreamed of my mocha almond skin appearing on the cover of Ebony, and I got my weekly fix of black news from Jet. So this week when I received an email that’s been making its rounds through the black community pleading for people to subscribe to both publications, I was surprised by my own apathy. Are Ebony and Jet still worth saving? To be honest, I traded in Ebony for Essence, and Jet for TheRoot.com a long time ago. So as with all moral conundrums, I took to the Internet to see what the bloggers were saying and found that many people share my guilt-ridden lack of enthusiasm about the possible shuttering of these historic publications.