NASHVILLE – In just two months, Stellar Gospel Music Awards Founder Don Jackson, and his Central City Productions Team, pulled off what will be one of the most amazing nights in Gospel music this year. Even while COVID-19 still lingers, and the possibility of this year’s show being virtual once again, they found a way to make it happen, albeit not without a few miracles along the way.
This year’s show found its way back to Nashville, after being held in Las Vegas for the last few years. It took place at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on July 10th, where Jackson said it was the venues first time hosting a Black awards show. The venue and the city welcomed this year’s awards with open arms as so many cities desire to get back to a semblance of normalcy with events happening in their communities. This year’s 36th Annual Awards was co-hosted by one of Gospel music’s legendary artist Tye Tribbett and legend in the making Jekalyn Carr, who effortlessly played off each other and kept the evening family oriented and light-hearted.
Before the show began, the atmosphere was electric as a parade of fashion, smiles and signature poses commenced on the blue carpet (in leu of a red one – as an ode to main awards show sponsor AT&T)! It was a pageant of the “who’s who” in Gospel music, as well as Gospel music lovers, alike. Renowned award show honorees The Clark Sisters and Tramaine Hawkins were all aglow on the carpet.
Also hitting the carpet were many of this year’s nominees and winners including Jonathan McReynolds, Pastor Mike Jr., Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Chandler Moore & Maverick City Music, Anthony Brown, Mali Music, Doe Jones, LeCrae, Sheléa & Christina Bell (both actresses in The Clark Sister Lifetime movie), Kim Burrell, Jason Nelson, Jonathan Nelson, James Fortune, just to name a few. This year’s awards even brought out the likes of rap legend and business mogul Percy “Master P.” Miller, who was there as an awards presenter, R&B singer LaTocha Scott of Xscape and social media influencer / funny man Karlton “Not Karlton Banks” Humes. The evening felt like a big joyful family reunion, as those in attendance expressed how grateful they were to be there in person this year and see familiar faces they have missed over the last year-plus of the pandemic.
During the Stellar Awards Press Conference, Don Jackson, Tye Tribbett, Jekalyn Carr and award show host alums David & Tamela Mann shared their takes (and outtakes) on what viewers can expect as they watch the awards show on the Black Entertainment Network (BET) this year. The Mann’s praised Tye and Jekalyn on the fabulous job they did together as this year’s host, especially with it being the first show after a long absence of folks gathering to celebrate. Mr. Jackson agreed, sharing how Kirk Franklin (one of the virtual awards show host last year) turned to him during the awards to give them props and recommend they need to host again in the future. Mr. Jackson admitted this was one of the first shows where he sat in the audience, as he is usually backstage or in the production booth making sure things are going according to plan. He was satisfied seeing it all unfold from the front row.
Tye and Jekalyn shared how they have a genuine friendship and admiration for one another, outside of their music. Tye admitted,” I was already in [to host the show] but when I heard that Jekalyn would be doing it with me, I was in-IN!” Not only did they bring a “big brother / little sis” vibe to their banter for the show, but they also played no games when it came to their fashion! Both artists had several amazing wardrobe changes during the taping and Jekalyn even collaborated with celebrity stylist J. Bolin to bring her clothing vision to life. She shared her take on where she believes fashion and the Gospel industry meet, “It is possible for you to be stylish and classy at the same time. We are God’s children, and He wants us to look good representing Him.”
Some of the applause worthy and standing ovation moments of the show you will not want to miss are siblings Twinkie, Karen, Dorinda, and Jacky of The Clark Sisters powerfully serenading the crowd during their acceptance of the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award. Tramaine Hawkins (who was the host of the first ever Stellar Awards) being honored by songstresses Yolonda Adams, Tamela Mann and Avery Sunshine for the Aretha Franklin Icon Award, is a must see. Along with performances by Pastor Mike Jr., Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music, CeCe Winans, and Sheléa & Christina Bell singing The Clark Sister ‘You Brought The Sunshine’, and many more. It will be worth the watch!
Whether you are a lover of Gospel music or not, you are guaranteed to be entertained by this year’s show and wowed by some of the greatest voices in music. You can catch this year’s Stellar Gospel Music Awards on Sunday, August 1st at 8 PM/EST on BET with an encore airing on August 2nd. Keep an eye out as well, for the Stellar TV Network that is set to launch in February 2022 as Don Jackson hopes to bring the vibe of the Stellar Awards to a wider audience, year-round.
Writer: Shani Jones, ShaniSpeaksNow, LLC.