Additional Reporting by Angela McDowell
All Photos by Moses Robinson
The Clark Sisters were expected to dominate the 2008 Stellar Awards and they did just that, winning awards for “Artist of the Year,” “Group/Duo of the Year,” “CD of the Year,” and “Traditional Group/Duo of the Year.” The group’s latest reunion recording "Live-One Last Time" has dominated airwaves and record sales for months. There is even speculation that due to the overwhelming success of their latest project they may record one more time. I guess we will just have to wait and see what's next for the ladies but they did well at the Stellars.
Next up was newcomer, DeWayne Woods. Woods’ project "Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet", picked up three awards, including “New Artist of the Year” and “Male Vocalist of the Year.”
"I was not expecting to win four out of five, I was praying to win new artist of the year." said Woods "I'm in the category with Fred Hammond and J Moss and all the wonderful people I've admired and just kind of watched over the years and for them to even choose me was absolutely incredible," he added.
"Just to know that people have received this message(reffering to his songs) Just to know that people have been touched, is the most important thing." reflected the new Stellar Award Winner.
In addition to sharing co-hosting duties, both Kirk Franklin and CeCe Winans received honors of their own. Franklin took home the “Special Event CD of the Year” Stellar Award. He also delivered a powerful performance of his hit single, Declaration (This Is It).
Winans was saluted by contemporary Christian artist Amy Grant and R&B singer Heather Headley with the Chevrolet Most Notable Achievement Award for pioneering work in songwriting, outstanding performances and record sales success in the gospel music industry. “I must thank my mom and dad for teaching me and my siblings about the greatest gift – Jesus Christ,” said Winans in her acceptance speech.
Pioneers of traditional gospel, such as Edwin Hawkins and Shirley Caesar, brought their energy and encouragement to a new generation of artists with their strong presence and spiritual maturity. Acknowledged at this year’s awards program with The Walgreens Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award were The Caravans and The Barrett Sisters for their long standing impact and influence on gospel music.
The legendary Tramaine Hawkins received the distinguished James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award for her major impact in the development and advancement of gospel music. Her latest project, I Never Lost My Praise, garnered her nominations in four categories, in which she easily grabbed two for “Female Vocalist of the Year,” and “Traditional Female of the Year.”
As in past shows, the Stellar Awards brought some of the best talent in gospel music to the stage. The show jumped off with an electrifying performance by Bishop Noel Jones and the City of Refuge Choir that brought the audience to its feet. The show’s opening number started what would be a grand night of inspiration and celebration. Powerful high energy and moving performances by Beverly Crawford and Ricky Dillard turned the Grand Ole Opry House into a tabernacle of praise. DeWayne Woods, Marvin Sapp and the Rance Allen Group were also highlights of this year’s show, along with the legendary Clark Sisters and the gospel urban sounds of Fred Hammond.
A long list of who’s who in entertainment joined the celebration as presenters and special guests, including soul singer Anthony Hamilton; actor, writer and producer Tyler Perry; gospel artist J. Moss; actor and funnyman Anthony Anderson; stage play Meet the Browns performers David and Tamela Mann; Everybody Hates Chris actress Tichina Arnold; Kim Stratton; gospel hip hop artist LP; songstress Regina Belle; The View co-host and comedienne Sherri Shepherd; Shirley Murdock; gospel music newcomer Spensha Baker; “Why Did I Get Married?” actress Tasha Smith; Canton Jones; and Dietrick and Damita Haddon.
The 23rd Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards will air in syndication in Atlanta on Fox 5 Saturday January 26, at 4 pm. For other areas please check your local listings for dates and times.
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