At Stellars, Trend Meets Tradition

The 27th Annual Stellar Awards brought together old and new artists, while hinting at a promising future for the gospel music industry.

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

About the author, DeVona Alleyne

DeVona Alleyne is a senior copy editor at Urban Ministries Inc. Writing is the one tangible thing she can’t live without. Singing is a close second, and she does that in part as a member of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. She studied practical theology at Regent University and received a B.A. in journalism and in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her 10 years as a newspaper journalist didn’t change the world much, but with help from her husband, she’ll keep working on it.
  1. Good Morning,
    27 years ago, I discovered a gift within myself and I instantly knew that it was God’s Gift from heaven. I never had special training – it flowed naturally and most importantly, it felt GOOD! On January 20, 2012, I heard a voice, clear as day, saying “Anniece, you cannot sit on this GIFT! I want you to use it NOW!!! The gift I’m speaking of is Praise Dance incoprating American Sign Language”. On this particular day, I danced for my cousin, celebrating his 58 years of life on this earth (homegoing – “Seasons by Donald Lawrence”). Long Story short, my dream is to open the 27th Annual Stella Awards sharing my Gift! I truly believe that the expression of dance heals all things. I told my self that I would reach out to the very next Event I hear about – I woke up this morning with the TV on and what did I see “The 27th Stella Awards Celebration” and also Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” video. So here I am, a normal Citizen, with this on my Heart this morning and I’m asking if I can do this. I’m not a professional, have never been professionally trained but my performance is a Gift from God that comes so naturally for me. I would like to perform “His Eye is on the Sparrow” – Sister Act II or “Seasons” – Donald Lawrence ;-) Much Love – Anniece Anderson. Looking forward to hearing from someone soon ;-) Don’t forget to SMILE! It feels sooooooo GOOD!

  2. Pingback: VaShawn Mitchell Raids the Stellar Awards! | "The Website for the Up & Coming Celeb!"