Vashawn Mitchell receives "Artist of the Year" trophy from Cece Winans at the Annual Stellar Awards. (Photo credit: Rick Diamond/Courtesy of Central City Productions & The FrontPage Firm)
Vashawn Mitchell was the man of the hour during the 27th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Mitchell took home six awards, including Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Male of the Year and Praise and Worship CD of the Year for his 2011 album, "Triumphant."
In his acceptance speech Mitchell thanked his family, label and social media fans and stated, "I am grateful to stand here; I've been coming to the Stellar Awards a long time and I'm glad I waited my turn."
Hosted by Dorinda Clark Cole and Marvin Sapp, the show was recorded in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry and will air in syndication from Januray 21, 2012 until February 26, 2012. Winners were selected by online voters.
Kirk Franklin kicked off the evening with a power packed, heart-pumping performance. In a production-packed opening number, filled with young dancers, Franklin performed a combination of his latest hits, including "Smile," which was awarded Song of the Year during the show. Franklin was also a multiple winner taking home three additional honors, including CD of the Year, Producer of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year. He dedicated his awards to his team, pulling them up on stage to share the moment during his acceptance for CD of the Year. He later stunned the crowd when he shared his award for Song of the Year with fellow nominee Darius Polk who penned Vashawn Mitchell's "Nobody Greater."
"Because God has been so kind to me.....He's given me more than I deserve or could ever earn," said Franklin. "I want to be a good Christian and I know to do that, I have to encourage others. That song "Nobody Greater" has ministered to me so deeply. If you don't mind, I would be honored to share this award with [Darius Polk] because that song is incredible."
Other top winners of the evening included Mary Mary, Kim Burrell, Smokie Norful and The Rance Allen Group who were honored with two trophies each. The New Artist of the Year award was presented to Y'anna Crawley who graciously thanked God for the opportunity to perform and use her gifts for his glory, as well as the fans for listening to her music.
The show was filled with great performances, including a collaborative medley of "Sweeter" by Kim Burrell; Jessica Reedy brought the audience to their feet with a rendition of "Put It on the Altar;" Le'Andria Johnson masterfully sang "Jesus;" and Martha Munizzi delighted the crowd with the spirited praise song, "Excellent." Other big performers included William McDowell, whose rendition of "I Give Myself Away" transformed the Grand Old Opry House into a spirit-filled sanctuary, with the visibly moved crowd joined together in worship. A high-energy Hip Hop collaboration by Canton Jones, LeCrae and Da'T.R.U.T.H. culminated in a soulful rendition of "Awesome God." Fred Hammond, Earnest Pugh, Richard Smallwood & Vision and James Fortune & Fiya. Ricky Dillard & New G closed out the show delivering a powerhouse performance to the delight of the full-to-capacity crowd.
John P. Kee received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments over a career that spans three decades and was serenaded by Isaac Carree, Sheila Lakin, Lowell Pye and Zacardi Cortez. Dorothy Norwood, dubbed "The World's Greatest Gospel Story Teller," received the Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award, presented by the veteran show host. Vy Higgensen, the first woman to host a morning show on New York radio as well as produce a faith-based musical on Broadway, received the Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award for her work with the "Gospel for Teens" program.
Log on to www.thestellarawards.com
for a complete list of winners.