Hezekiah Walker Talks Stellar Awards and Career
Hezekiah Walker is a gospel giant. This year, he participated in the 30th Annual Stellar Awards, and took two super fans along with him for the experience! Yolanda Proctor and Clevette Sykes received an all-access, behind-the-scenes view of the awards and festivities that took place over the weekend of Mar 28. Bishop Walker also spoke with the ladies for an inspirational JET interview.
Check it out below, then get a visual glimpse of the experience in the photo gallery!
The Stellar Awards took place in Vegas this year, which is a big venue change. Did it amplify the event at all and bring a new type of energy?
Bishop Walker: I feel that we experienced a kindred energy to the one we experienced at the Choir Fest in Tennessee. Sure I will agree that it is a large venue change, but I believe the real energy surge comes from the fact that people want to enjoy the worship of church choirs. While there are some who feel that there is no place for the choir in today’s church, I’m experienced enough to know that nothing compares to having a committed choir to enhance your service on Sunday; not taking anything away from praise teams and the like. The mission of Choir Fest is to bring awareness to the contribution of choirs in worship. The Bible documents and establishes the purpose and place of the choir in the church. We want to open the conversation with the Ministers’ of Music as well as the Pastor to keep this church staple in its proper place. ChoirFest takes this message to the Church with the debut held in Atlanta Georgia back in January. Three others are set for Cincinnati, Charlotte, and Los Angeles.
In the midst of the physical awards and accolades, what stands out to you the most when it comes to awards season?
Bishop Walker: What I enjoy most is the collaboration of the artists. With the extreme schedules we all maintain, it is difficult to create and sustain an opportunity for everybody to be at the same place at the same time. Awards season creates “that place” of fellowship and camaraderie allowing us to enjoy some quality time.
Having your own choir and participating in How Sweet the Sound last year as a judge, what is it like being on the other end and offering advice to other choirs?
Bishop Walker: As a choir man, it was great to have the opportunity to gently critique and give pointers to help choirs improve and most of all to give encouragement. Anyone who observed me as a judge for that competition, saw me carefully choose my words in order to accomplish my goal to help the choirs with constructive criticism of tips for better choir presence without killing their confidence. I believe that if someone volunteers to do a job for the Lord, eventually he is going to bless or grow that faith work. My job is to tell them what I know will help them to improve their craft without killing their hopes.
Last year, your song “Every Praise” remained No. 1 on Billboard charts for 26 weeks. That’s half of a year. Did you anticipate such success?
Bishop Walker: I did, I actually did. When I first put it all together and listened to it, I felt in my heart that it was going to be a song that would grow in the hearts of choirs all over the country! Some around me did not agree, but I knew in my heart, I had a gut feeling, that this was the song that would unify believers all over in the act of praising our God. As I watched it go to the top of the charts and then rest there for 26 weeks, it was an affirmation that what was in my spirit before the release was in fact right. The charts gave affirmation, but no surprise.
How do you balance managing a booming gospel music career with overseeing an ever-growing church congregation as senior pastor of Love Fellowship Tabernacle?
BISHOP WALKER: The most efficient tool to balance is first acknowledging the calling on my life and the oversight of two local churches in Brooklyn NY and Bensalem, PA. Also, family is time management. I give quality time based on need and agenda to each of these areas in my life on a regular basis. Time management outweighs everything else when it comes to bringing balance to my life. It’s a demanding lifestyle that God has assigned to me, but to whom much is known much is required. I am grateful that God has chosen me to serve in this capacity.
With so much sadness happening and the lost of many lives, what is your message to youth, Black men and women, who may feel like there’s not a better tomorrow? How do we actively initiate and enforce change and positivity?
Bishop Walker: I believe it is a wake up call for the church! The church has the answer, but is failing to get that message to the people who need it most. The church must go outside and deliver the message. If the nonbeliever receives the word of God on a consistent basis, they too know that there is hope. “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” And “How shall they hear without the preacher?” The charge is given to the pastor to lead the believers in seeking the lost. The church is equipped, but we are badly missing the mark of speaking hope to the nonbeliever. In the end, my message is that Jesus is the hope and that the hope is real! The church must “go into the highway and byways and compel men to come.” We do have several initiatives that reach out to service various needs of the community. They include a summer camp for youth, food pantry that feeds more than 600 per week and the initiative for senior housing. I believe these programs have initiated positive change and at the same time, I know we still have much work to do.
Check out photos from the 30th Annual Stellar Awards, here!