Gospel Artists Shine at 23rd Annual Stellar Awards

By Jenny Bennett | managing editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Posted: Mon, 01/14/2008 - 15:54

album promo image for Gospel Artists Shine at 23rd Annual Stellar Awards

by Deborah Evans Price

It was a night to remember for the Clark Sisters as the pioneering group took top honors at the 23rd annualStellar Awards Saturday night at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House. Sisters Dorinda Clark Cole, Karen Clark Sheard, Twinkie Clark and Jacky Clark Chisholm picked up four Stellar Awards, including artist of the year and CD for the EMI Gospel collection Live – One Last Time.

The Sisters say they were totally taken by surprise and didn't expect the carry home so many Stellars. "We kept saying 'If we just get one, we'll be happy," says Clark Chisholm.

"We're very happy, very honored and humbled because the people didn't have to do what they did," says Clark Sheard.

"This has been such an awesome night! Tears were flowing," Clark Cole said backstage. "It's been a long time coming to get this recognition. They really love us and want us to stay out here. Tonight much love was given and we can't let them down. We're going to do something more."

The Clark Sisters, well known for such ground-breaking hits as You Brought the Sunshine, reunited last year for a successful tour and the CD/DVD release of Live – One Last Time. All smiles and hugs backstage, the ladies were quick to admit that it won't be the last time.

"We're going to sit down and talk about what we're going to do next because we are going to do another album," says Clark Chisholm, adding they are looking at heading back out on tour in April.

Solo projects continue to be a part of the Clark Sisters future also. Clark Cole has been working on a new project for Zomba Gospel, which will release in the next few months.

CeCe Winans, Byron Cage and Kirk Franklin served as co-hosts for the 23rd AnnualStellar Awards. Winans was also honored with the Chevrolet Most Notable Achievement Award for her "pioneering work in songwriting, outstanding performances and record sales success in the gospel industry."

Smokie Norful, Fred Hammond, Ricky Dillard and Beverly Crawford were among the evening's performers. The show, produced by Chicago-based Central City Productions, will air in syndication from January 26 through March 23.

Newcomer DeWayne Woods was also one of the top winners, taking home three honors, including new artist and male vocalist of the year. Woods' hit, Let Go, penned by P. J. Morton was named song of the year. Woods' daughter, Tatiana, accompanied her father to the pressroom backstage, beaming with pride. "I look up to him," she said. "I'm very proud of him."

Woods credits his success to the impact of the song Let Go. "It was the heart of the song, the message. To have a song that makes people go 'aawwww!' he says sighing heavily. "To have a song that says, 'I can really let go and watch God move in my life' that touched people."

Woods is getting ready to head out on tour this spring with Tarsha McMillian Hamilton and Myron Butler. "It's going to be a lot of fun," he says.

Veteran chanteuse Tramaine Hawkins received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award as well as being named female vocalist and traditional female vocalist on the strength of her GospoCentric/Zomba Gospel album I Never Lost My Praise – Live.

Backstage Hawkins shared what it meant to her to win the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award. "James is the ultimate in terms of an encourager. When I had gone in a different direction and recorded the song Fall Down, I was getting a lot of criticism from my fan base at that time," she says, recalling the backlash she received for the more dance pop flavored hit that crossed over to mainstream charts in the 80s. "He put his arms around me and told people what we often say now 'Stop talking about folks and pray for them!' Receiving this award tonight is a mountaintop experience for me. I've experienced some valleys in my life and career. I've been through some hurts, but this is truly a joyful night."

Hawkins first gained acclaimed in the late 60s singing with the Edwin Hawkins Singers on the groundbreaking Gospel hit Oh Happy Day before going on to forge a successful solo career. "I'm really proud of what gospel has become. I think there's a lot of diversity," she says.

"The only thing I would try to instill in young artists is to really, really be true to your call. It's more than singing a song, it's a lifestyle, and I believe when you really live what you sing, people are touched. You don't become just a song for a moment, you become a song for life.

That's what has given me the desire to keep doing what I do all these years. God has blessed me with songs that have really turned peoples' lives around. They are not just for this year, they are songs that have lasted a generation and I've been blessed to record them."

The following is a complete list ofStellar Award winners:

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
The Clark Sisters, Live – One Last Time, EMI Gospel

SONG OF THE YEAR
P. Morton, Let Go/Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet, Quiet Water/Verity/Zomba

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
DeWayne Woods, Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet, Quiet Water/Verity/Zomba

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Tramaine Hawkins, I Never Lost My Praise – Live, Gospo Centric/Zomba

GROUP/DUO OF THE YEAR
The Clark Sisters, Live – One Last Time, EMI Gospel

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
DeWayne Woods, Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet, Quiet Water/Verity/Zomba

CD OF THE YEAR
The Clark Sisters, Live – One Last Time, EMI Gospel

CHOIR OF THE YEAR
Bishop T. D. Jakes & The Potter's House Mass Choir – Live in Kenya, Grace The Kenya Experience, Dexterity Records/Rhino

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
Donald Lawrence, The Clark Sisters – Live – One Last Time, EMI Gospel

CONTEMPORARY GROUP/DUO OF THE YEAR
The McClurkin Project, We Praise You, Gospo Centric/Zomba

TRADITIONAL GROUP/DUO OF THE YEAR
The Clark Sisters, Live – One Last Time, EMI Gospel

CONTEMPORARY MALE OF THE YEAR
Fred Hammond, Free to Worship, Verity

TRADITIONAL MALE OF THE YEAR
Richard Smallwood, Journey: Live In New York, Verity/Zomba

CONTEMPORARY FEMALE OF THE YEAR
Vickie Winans, Woman To Woman: Songs of Life, Verity/Zomba

TRADITIONAL FEMALE OF THE YEAR
Tramaine Hawkins, I Never Lost My Praise – Live, Gospo Centric/Zomba

CONTEMPORARY CD OF THE YEAR
J. Moss, V2…, PAJAM/Gospo Centric/Zomba

TRADITIONAL CD OF THE YEAR
Bishop Paul S. Morton, Still Standing, Light Records/Tehillah

URBAN/INSPIRATIONAL SINGLE OR PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
DeWayne Woods, Let Go/Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet, Quiet Water/Verity/Zomba

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
J. Moss, Operator/V2…, PAJAM/Gospo Centric/Zomba

TRADITIONAL CHOIR OF THE YEAR
Bishop T. D. Jakes & The Potter's House Mass Choir – Live in Kenya, Grace The Kenya Experience, Dexterity Records/Rhino

CONTEMPORARY CHOIR OF THE YEAR
Isaiah Thomas and the Elements of Praise, Isaiah Thomas & the Elements of Praise Live!, R.O.U. Records

INSTRUMENTAL GOSPEL CD OF THE YEAR
Ben Tankard, Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience, Verity/Zomba

SPECIAL EVENT CD OF THE YEAR
Kirk Franklin, Kirk Franklin Presents Songs For The Storm Volume 1, Fo Yo Soul/Gospo Centric Zomba

RAP/HIP-HOP GOSPEL CD OF THE YEAR
PAJAM Presents 21:03, Twenty One O Three, PAJAM/Gospo Centric/Verity/Zomba

CHILDREN'S PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Jada Simone Clark, Maurette Brown Clark's The Dream, AIR Gospel/Malaco Records

QUARTET OF THE YEAR
The Rance Allen Group, Closest Friend, Tyscot Records

RECORDED MUSIC PACKAGING OF THE YEAR
Denise Trotman Design, Art Direction and Design; Ronald Cadiz, Photography; Vickie Winans-Woman To Woman: Songs Of Life, Verity/Zomba

PRAISE AND WORSHIP CD OF THE YEAR
Maurette Brown Clark, The Dream, AIR

SPECIAL AWARDS

JAMES CLEVELAND LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Tramaine Hawkins

CHEVROLET MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
CeCe Winans

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About the Writer

Deborah Evans PriceDeborah Evans Price is a Nashville-based journalist who has spent the past 11 years covering country and Christian music for Billboard magazine, and has contributed stories on everyone from Alan Jackson to Bon Jovi to Avril Lavigne.

Deborah has received the "Outstanding Mainstream Contribution to Gospel Music" award from the Gospel Music Association. Considered a key analyst in the music field, Deborah has been interviewed by MSNBC, CNN, CMT, New York Times, Today Show, and ABC Primetime, among other outlets. She's served three years as judge on TBN's "Exalting Him Christian Artist Talent Search," where some say she's become the "Paula Abdul" of the Christian competition.

A Virginia native, Deborah grew up on Air Force bases in New Jersey, Georgia, Arkansas, and Japan. She and husband Gary have been married 21 years and have a 16-year-old son Trey. They reside outside Nashville and attend Mill Creek Baptist Church.


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