Saturday Night's Show 'Souled' Out
By Lisa Collins, senior music editor,gmc.com
The 25th Annual Stellar Awards in Nashville Saturday evening named several clear frontrunners in this year's assembly of gospel music releases and performances. Nominated for six Stellar Awards, Hezekiah Walker & Love Fellowship Choir (LFC)took home five, including Artist of the Year, Choir of the Year, and Contemporary Choir of the Year. Walker & LFC's album Souled Out was recognized as the CD of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year.
"I can hardly believe it," said Walker of winning the top honor. "I'm both humbled and surprised. I had no expectation of winning. I've been in this industry for so long and won my share of awards, and after so long you feel like you come up against people who the light is now shining on. Like Donald Lawrence. He's produced so many people and written all these great projects. I thought they were going to give it to him. The record was big, but I didn't think it was big enough to win five Stellars, so it really makes me feel embraced and appreciatedby the industry."
Donnie McClurkinpicked up honors forTraditional Male of the Year, but decided to show appreciation for a female colleague rather than accept the award.
"I gave my award to Karen [Clark-Sheard]for her selfless contributions, for her time and talent with no pre-requisites...thus making this CD a landmark recording and making 'Wait On the Lord' a classic song."
Male Vocalist of the Year and Contemporary Male of the Year recipient Smokie Norful admitted that even after numerous nominations and wins in the past, it doesn't get less nerve-wracking as the years go by.
"You try to prepare what you're going to say and practice it in your head, but it never comes out like you planned," said Norful. "This year I forgot to thank my co-producer, Jason Tyson, and he's so much a part of this project and the reason I was standing up there tonight."
Mary Mary commenced a tremendously eventful year as well, as they were honored for Song of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Single/Performance of the Year for "God In Me," as well asGroup/Duo of the Year and Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year.
Newcomer Crystal Aikin (winner of BET's high-profile gospel competition Sunday Best in 2007) proved she's just getting started, winning New Artist of the Year and Contemporary Female of the Year,while maintaining afaith-focused attitude.
"To God be the glory," Aikin said. "God is doing things beyond my imagination. I never thought I would be where I am today, here at the Stellar Awards. This is above and beyond any of my expectations and on top of that, to be among such gospel greats and to have them calling my name...It's just amazing."
Click here for a full list of winners.
About the Writer
Lisa Collins, a Los Angeles native and resident, is a syndicated columnist, writer, publisher and former Billboard Magazine columnist. Her career in gospel began in 1988 with her creation of "Inside Gospel," a daily/weekly syndicated radio series that provided news, profiles and product updates relative to the gospel music community. For the next eight years, she would also serve as executive producer of the show that was broadcast in more than 100 markets nationwide. Collins has also served as a segment producer for BET and authored well over 300 articles on a variety of issues for a number of national publications from Essence to Upscale. Her background in the field of entertainment reporting is extensive, featuring cover stories and interviews with the likes of Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson and Prince.
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