At Stellars, Trend Meets Tradition

At Stellars, Trend Meets Tradition

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
VaShawn Mitchell

Song of the Year
“I Smile” | Kirk Franklin

Male Vocalist of the Year
VaShawn Mitchell

Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year
Kim Burrell

Group/Duo of the Year
Mary Mary

New Artist of the Year
Y’Anna Crawley

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
Mary Mary

Traditional Group/Duo of the Year
The Rance Allen Group

Contemporary Male of the Year
VaShawn Mitchell

Traditional Male of the Year
Smokie Norful

Contemporary Female of the Year
Kim Burrell

Traditional Female of the Year
Beverly Crawford

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

Major Market
KJLH 102.3 FM – Los Angeles

Medium Market
WLOU 1350 AM – Louisville, Ken.

Large Market
WHAL 95.7 FM/1460 AM – Memphis

Small Market
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

Celebrating Dr. King with Service

Celebrating Dr. King with Service

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration that took place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark Thursday night was not only a celebration of the civil rights leader, but a worship service led by two dynamic gospel music stars and a highly accomplished pastor. Three extraordinary women were also honored for following in King’s footsteps and changing their communities for the better.

Richard Smallwood: ‘Anybody Can Serve’

Richard Smallwood

Gospel Music Hall of Fame artist Richard Smallwood told UrbanFaith that Dr. King was “a prime example” of someone who devoted his life to the service and blessing of others.

Noting King’s statement that “everybody can be great… because anybody can serve,” Smallwood said, “It’s not about your name in lights …or how many houses you have, how many cars you have, but who are you helping, where you are making a difference? That part of him always gets my heart.”

Smallwood grew up with at least one intimate model of selflessness, in the person of his mother. She died in 2005, but encouraged her only child to study classical music and worked overtime so he could attend Howard University.

“She really was my biggest cheerleader. So it was very difficult when she transitioned,” said Smallwood, who didn’t write music for four years after she died.

In 2004, Smallwood completed a Master of Divinity degree at Howard out of a sense of calling from God.

“People said, ‘We know you’re going to preach.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no! I don’t want to do that.’ It finally got to the point where I knew that that was a part of my calling. It was something I was going to have to do, because it was what I was born to do,” said Smallwood.

“I was nervous because I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve been in music all my life. I’m going to have to do papers, and a lot of reading, and stuff like that. It wasn’t easy, but it was a joy, because I had to do a lot of stuff in hotel rooms when I was traveling, in airports, writing papers and sending them back home to my professors. But it was a great experience,” the ordained Baptist minister explained.

Like King, who said he didn’t want to be remembered for his awards, but for his life of service, Smallwood wants to be remembered for the gifts he has bestowed on others.

“My prayer has always been that my music is what people will remember a long, long, long time after I’m gone … because I’ve seen how God can use gifts and really make a difference in people’s lives.”

Tye Tribbett: ‘Stand Up and Make a Change’

Tye Tribbett

Gospel artist Tye Tribbett grew up in Camden, New Jersey, where he said he led a “very sheltered” life as the son of strict Apostolic Pentecostal pastors. Even so, he couldn’t help but see the rougher side of life in his city.

“Some of the stereotypes that are on Camden, we have to take the blame. We caused a lot of [people] to have that perspective on us. But a lot of us now are also taking the initiative to turn that whole thing around,” said Tribbett.

“I think that’s what Martin Luther King’s birthday is all about: somebody being frustrated enough to stand up and make a change, and voice that we don’t have to stay this way. We don’t have to. I think that’s what Martin Luther King did against all odds. He stood up, not only felt it, not only thought it, but spoke it,” he added.

Six months ago, Tribbett and his wife Shante′ started The Word on the Street, a Bible study that meets at a public school in Camden. Three hundred people gather, Tribbett said, with a vision for turning the city around.

“We’re right in line with the dream that [King] had years ago,” said Tribbett.

“It’s not the normal Bible study,” he explained. “We’re taking a different approach, a fresh approach, because I believe right information creates right believing, and right believing creates right living. Or better, better information, better believing, better living.”

Tribbett knows something about the power of belief. After a particularly challenging time in his marriage that was brought on by his infidelity, he battled suicidal thoughts.

“I felt very guilty and ashamed, so when I started feeling and sensing voices, quote unquote, of suicide, it actually scared me. So I ran to the shelter of mentors,” said Tribbett.

He confessed his suicidal thoughts to them and said there were times when they didn’t leave him alone.

“A lot of young people today who are committing suicide because of bullying and all that kind of crazy stuff, I don’t think they have mentors,” said Tribbett. “I don’t think we have leadership. I don’t think we’re accountable to anybody, so we’re left to our own thoughts, and we’re left to whatever we feel. So I think it’s wise for young people, and older people, just to find somebody to be accountable to, to submit under somebody so they can bring you in when you’re way out there.”

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