Continuing the awards momentum that she has been surrounding her since last year, Tamela Mann was honored seven times 29th Annual Stellar Gospel Awards during the show's live telecast at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Jan. 18. Mann won "Artist of the Year," "Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year," "CD of the Year," "Traditional Female of the Year," "Traditional CD of the Year," "Urban Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year" and "Praise & Worship CD of the Year" for "Best Days."
"I'm so grateful, I'm so excited," exclaimed Mann when asked backstage about receiving seven Stellar Awards. "I thank God for the Stellar Awards for opening up this door for us," she added.
Tamela Mann's massive hit "Take Me to the King" also garnered "Song of the Year" honors for its producer Kirk Franklin. In an intimate moment at a luncheon for the 29th Annual Stellar Awards, Franklin discussed his long history with Mann, a childhood friend since age 15, and what inspired their collaboration together on "King." Franklin, Mann and her now husband David, first attained music fame together as Kirk Franklin & The Family in the 90's.
"I am very proud of Tamela and I am very proud to be a part of this record in a small way," said Franklin. He added, "she is wonderful and beautiful; to God be the glory for "Take Me to the King."
Ten awards were handed out during the 2-hour live telecast in primetime on UP Television Network. As a part of the pre-show activities, 28 additional awards were announced during ceremonies held on Friday and Saturday. All Stellar winners are selected by online voters. Sherri Shepherd ("The View") and Rickey Smiley ("Dish Nation") added just the right comedic flair to their job as hosts and Smiley treated the audience to a taste of his beloved church lady sketch, "Bernice Jenkins." This year's celebration began with Tye Tribbett hosting a live stream of the star-studded red carpet arrivals that featured Gospel greats, television, film and political luminaries.
Newcomer Tasha Cobbs won "Contemporary CD of the Year," "Contemporary Female of the Year" and "New Artist of the Year." Hezekiah Walker walked away with three awards and tied Cobbs as the second most honored artist of the evening. Fred Hammond, John P. Kee and Anthony Brown also earned multiple Stellar Awards, each receiving two.
Recognized for both individual and group success, Brown won "Contemporary Male of the Year" and "Group/Duo of the Year" with Kee winning "Traditional Male of the Year" and "Traditional Group/Duo of the Year." Kee performed with New Life and Brown with Group Therapy, which shared the Group/Duo awards with their front men. Tye Tribbett was the most nominated artist and took home the award for "Male Vocalist of the Year."
Power and praise were on full display from the evening's opening performance as Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Choir delivered a spirited version of "Every Praise" with praise dancers. Erica Campbell, Jekalyn Carr, Latice Crawford and Lexi united for the Female Collaboration and performed a medley that included "A Little More Jesus," "Greater Is Coming," "There" and "Abide." One commanding performance was followed by another as Anthony Brown & Group Therapy continued to raise the level with "Testimony"; "The Gift" by Donald Lawrence & Company inspired the near capacity audience to get out of their seats.
A highlight of the night was Jennifer Holliday bringing the house down with "Make Them Hear You." Joining forces for the quartet collaboration were The Canton Spirituals, The Gospel Legends and The Wardlaw Brothers and Ricky Dillard closed the show on a high note singing "Amazing." Shirley Caesar, Tasha Cobbs, Isaac Carree, and Kirk Franklin all delivered passionate performances for the Gospel music lovers in attendance.
Annually, The Stellar Awards recognizes the accomplishments of Gospel music icons and individuals instrumental in advocating for Gospel music. Hezekiah Walker received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments and was acknowledged in a video message by Joel Osteen. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee received the Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award for her career accomplishments on Capitol Hill and for authoring the bill designating September as Gospel Music Heritage Month. Pastor Maceo L. Woods was honored with Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award, presented by its namesake, Dr. Bobby Jones.
"Our new venue, the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, gave the Stellar Awards performers an opportunity to expand their presentation. I believe this created a big wow affect," said the show's executive producer Don Jackson. "Expanded staging, improved lighting and additional screens allowed for better choreography, which took the show to another level and our artists responded with some of our best performances ever."
Next year the Stellar Awards will celebrate its 30th year and Jackson promises there will be some surprises in store. For a list of re-broadcasts of the 29th Annual Stellar Awards, visit stellarawards.com