Giving You the Gospel: Stellar Awards Recap

Gospel singer Tamela Mann wins big at the 29th Annual Stellar Awards.

Welcome to “Giving You the Gospel.” Each week, we will share all things gospel and give you a dose of your favorite celebs whose music stirs your soul and from time to time—preachers and pastors whose sermons make you whole.

Gospel music lovers landed in the country music capital to attend the 29th Annual Stellar Awards this past Saturday, January 18. Chatter is still buzzing about the power-packed weekend starting with the BMI Gospel Music Awards Luncheon that honored legendary artists Richard Smallwood and Rev. Daryl Coley for decades of outstanding gospel classics. Both men graciously accepted the honors and amazing musical tributes.

Celebs and gospel royalty including James Fortune, Karen Clark Sheard, Kierra Sheard, Kimberly Elise, Ben and Jewel Tankard, Bishop Joseph Walker, Dr. Sherry Blake, Anita Wilson, Jessica Reedy and Marvin Sapp all graced the red carpet in preparation for a night of praise. “The time, talent and commitment exhibited by the artists continues to make our sold-out live show a must see event,” said Don Jackson, founder of the Stellar Awards.

Speaking of must-see: Hezekiah Walker and Fellowship Crusade Choir kicked off the set with the Sunday morning favorite “Every Praise.” Later, Joel Osteen, America’s Pastor delighted the audience with a video introduction of the choirmaster for the Lifetime Achievement Award. A Holy Ghost party emerged when Anthony Brown and Group Therapy gave an energetic performance of Testimony and took home three Stellars.

The evening’s must-see moments continued with Donald Lawrence and Company making smooth moves to The Gift. Newcomer Jonathan McReynolds wowed the crowd with his easy listening acoustic urban gospel tune—”No Gray.” Chicago’s presence continued to rock the house when VaShawn Mitchell ended the set with McReynolds, Zacardi Cortez and Jonathan Nelson lending their vocals to “Turning Around For Me.” Tye Tribbett gratefully accepted the award for “Male Vocalist of the Year.” And the First Lady of Gospel Shirley Caesar was mesmerizing with “God Will Make a Way.”

Tamela Mann of Meet the Browns went home with seven trophies, including Artist of the Year and the Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year award. During an emotional acceptance speech, Mann thanked Kirk Franklin and the fans saying, “It’s been 20 years in the business and it’s for us to give back to God—I don’t mind getting ugly for the Lord.”

Bishop Paul Morton gave honors to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who received the Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Award for making September Gospel Heritage Month. Meanwhile, Pastor Maceo L. Woods was honored with Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award, presented by the man himself, Dr. Jones.

Co-hosts Sherri Shepherd and Rickey Smiley kept audience members in stitches especially when Smiley’s character, Sister Bernice Jenkins came to the stage. He also joked about Shepherd’s slimmer size and she happily acknowledged being 31 pounds lighter. Both got huge laughs when holding up a miniature controversial white dress supposedly worn by Erica Campbell that went viral—Smiley later asked the audience if it’s okay to be saved and sexy.

Gospel divas Lexi, Jekalyn Carr and Latice Crawford soon joined Campbell for an anointed collaboration of hits. Tasha Cobbs left the audience spellbound in praise and worship mode with “Break Every Chain” receiving three awards, including New Artist of the Year. Isaac Carree gave a lively performance of “Clean this House.” Neither John P Kee nor Fred Hammond attended—Hammond is recovering from double knee surgery—but both snagged two awards each. Kirk Franklin’s touching tribute to Nelson Mandela ended with Jennifer Holliday belting her amazing rendition of “Make Them Hear You.”

The night wound down when Pastor Charles Jenkins of Fellowship Baptist helped present Song of the Year, which Kirk Franklin humbly accepted and thanked Tamela Mann for his crossover hit, “Take Me to The King.”  The electrifying Ricky Dillard and New Generation Chorale took us home with “You’re Amazing.”

Check for local listings and airtimes. See images from the evening HERE, courtesy of Kingsmen Media’s Sly White.

About Effie Rolfe

Effie Roffe

Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her website; like her on Facebook/ and follow on twitter @effiedrolfe.