30th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards—A Weekend to Remember

The 30th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards was filled with excitement, exhilaration, laughter and celebration of artists past and present who continue to deliver great songs of hope and inspiration to the world. The huge attendance was a good indicator of the audience’s anticipation of the popular awards show being held in Las Vegas. The opening act kicked off with a bang. Church folk jumped to their feet when eOne Music recording artist Michelle Williams, winner of Best Music Video of the Year, teamed up with former bandmates Destiny’s Child to sing her chart topping song Say Yes. It was a double treat when the trio including Beyonce’ and Kelly Rowland did a re-take due to technicalities, making the performance twice as nice.
Although Tamela Mann didn’t sing any of her hit songs, she looked flawless as she changed into three beautiful gowns. She co-hosted with hubby, David Mann, and radio personality Rickey Smiley

Ricky Smiley Tamela and David Mann
Ricky Smiley , Tamela and David Mann

who were both hilariously funny during the evening. David was on point telling his wife, “You look like you were poured into that dress.”  Also, Ricky received a hearty Amen as he proclaimed, “We’re about to turn Sin City into Salvation City!”
Other highlights of the evening incorporated the who’s who of gospel music. Ten-time nominee Erica Campbell took top honors, winning six awards, including Artist of the Year, Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year. She acknowledged her sister, the other half of award-winning duo Mary Mary, in her heartfelt remarks. “Thank you Tina for saying that you needed a break cause I wouldn’t have done it (Help) if you didn’t say that.”
Ricky Dillard and New G followed Campbell with three wins and Deitrick Haddon tied with The Walls Group for two trophies apiece. After winning the Male Vocalist of the Year award, Haddon expressed gratitude for being recognized following a difficult time in his life. “A couple of years ago I messed up so bad I thought I could never inspire anyone again,” he shared. “I was ready to quit and God spoke to me. This award is for people who think it’s over for them.” Haddon later brought the house down with a star-studded rendition of My City collaborating with Dorinda Clark-Cole, Clareta Haddon, Kierra Sheard, J. Moss, 21:03 and Shelby Five.
The New Artist of the Year award was presented to Tasha Page-Lockhart, making her first Stellar Awards appearance, performing Great Is Your Love and Faith Come Alive with fellow first-timers The Walls Group. Other masterful performances included Smokie Norful, Erica Campbell and Pastor Beverly Crawford who all delivered passionate hand-clapping and foot-stomping presentations to the delight of the filled-to-capacity crowd. The Stellar Awards signature is its
Erica Campbell
Erica Campbell

powerful collaborations and this year was no exception with Rance Allen Group, Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers, as well as Uncle Reece, Willie Moore, Jr. and Canton Jones teaming up to deliver amazing musical numbers.
Bishop Paul Morton received the Allstate James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award and was honored in song by Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers with Zarcadi & Crystal singing a medley of I’m Still Standing. Al “The Bishop” Hobbs, received the Chevrolet Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legend Award for his career accomplishments on Capitol Hill. Donnie McClurkin gave powerful words concerning the legacy of the late Andre Crouch. Yolanda Adams and Israel Houghton performed How Awesome Is Our God celebrating the life of Crouch which set the tone for one of the most moving speeches of the night from his twin sister, Sandra Crouch.
Speaking from the heart on behalf of her legendary sibling, Crouch was honored posthumously with the Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award for his lifelong contributions to gospel music that have influenced artists from every genre and around the globe. “When the storms come and when there are no trophies, no Grammys and there’s no light shining,” she proclaimed, “…you still say to God be the glory.”
Bobby Jones, Erma Gray, and Don Jackson
Bobby Jones, Erma Gray, and Don Jackson

Don Jackson, Stellar Awards chairman and executive producer, implemented a new tradition of presenting the inaugural Stellar Honors Club. In the tradition of the Kennedy Center Honors, The Stellar Honors inductees included Pastor Shirley Caesar, Byron Cage, Clifton Davis, Ricky Dillard, Kirk Franklin, Dr. Bobby Jones, Vicki Mack Lataillade, Dottie Peoples, Donnie McClurkin and Vickie Winans who each received a medallion to commemorate excellence in their respective fields.
Prior to the show, Tye Tribbett hosted a live stream on the star-studded red carpet featuring gospel greats, television, film and political luminaries such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. Chicago was also represented when Jonathan McReynolds wowed the audience with his soon to be hit comprised of great lyrics dedicated to Jesus. Ricky Dillard took home three awards and Tiffany Joy McGhee, lead vocalist and writer of his song Amazing, won State Farm Song of the Year. They ended the show with the Choir’s spirited performance of his current single, Grace.
Don Jackson was humbled by the industry’s support. “It’s so kind for people to just show up. We appreciate it. We definitely feel the love here in Las Vegas and we’re looking at coming back.” The 30th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards will air in nationwide syndication through May 10th.
“Remember—You are Blessed by the Best!”
Effie Rolfe is a speaker, media personality and author of A Moment to Super Size Your Thinking. You may contact her at effierolfe.com  or on twitter.com/effiedrolfe.  Listen to her show on urbanpraiseradio.org (Stellar Award Winner for Best Internet Radio Station 2015).


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