Joy to the World: gmc Salutes ‘Women of Substance’
By Jenny Bennett, managing editor and Melissa-Riddle Chalos, senior content strategist, www.watchgmctv.com
Whether a mother, sister, mentor or friend, it’s often the women in our lives who inspire us with their creativity and passion, filling our lives with great joy and shaping the women and men we become.
With so many worthy pursuits deserving of our attention – many of them led and driven by these very ‘women of substance’ – gmclife.com is proud to present to you, our dear readers, a group of women – authors, speakers, singers and songwriters – who have made an impact on the world. Some you may be familiar with and others not, but all have lived their lives with an inspiring degree of intelligence, grace and style – qualities and achievements which embody the ideals of Lincoln’s Women of Substance campaign, as well as what we here at gmclife.com admire so greatly.
And remember, in 250 words or less, tell us about your ‘Woman of Substance,’ and we’ll make sure she has a chance at the rewards she deserves. Presented by gmc and actress Kim Fields, the Lincoln MKX ‘Women of Substance’ Sweepstakes will award the lucky winner a trip for two to Nashville with exclusive access to the BMI Trailblazers Award Show (honoring Gospel legends Commissioned and Pastor Shirley Caesar), as well as the Stellar Awards (Gospel’s Biggest Night). Click here to nominate your ‘Woman of Substance’ today. The winner will be chosen by December 15.
From her beginnings in the early ’80s as a featured gospel soloist, attracting the attention of the prominent artists and producers of the day, to her second GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album in 2001, Yolanda Adams has been spreading a message of hope far and wide for more than two decades, and may we add, her youthful appearance doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.
As if hosting a popular radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” wasn’t enough to put this award-winning singer on the map, she is also the author of Points of Power: Discover a Spirit-Filled Life of Joy and Purpose (FaithWords) which released early this year. Using points she highlights on the air, Adams reassures the reader of his or her uniqueness. And with a love of children’s causes almost as legendary as her singing, Yolanda has served as an outspoken advocate for inner city school children. Recalling her days as a teacher fondly she says, “It’s been my experience that whatever you ask of them, you must look to the best in them. The transformation can be astounding.”
Mary Beth Chapman
Married to award-winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman for 26 years, Mary Beth Chapman has crafted a compelling story that chronicles life with her husband as they’ve parented six children, three of them adopted, dealt with the mercurial music industry, and more recently, dealt with the loss of their youngest daughter in a tragic accident. “The working title [of Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope (Revell)] really was ‘Mary Beth versus God,’” she explains, “because it’s about my wrestling match with what I thought was going to be good for me and what I thought the plan was going to be, which obviously wasn’t what God had in mind.”
Refreshing honesty is what draws so many loyal followers to Mary Beth’s blog and has kept the book riding the New York Times Bestseller list and No. 1 on the Christian Booksellers Association list. But Mary Beth’s reach has extended much farther than her writing. In 2001, the Chapmans founded Show Hope, an organization which helps families tear down the financial barrier to adoption. She currently serves as president of the ministry, which to date has given more than 2,500 financial grants, affecting the lives of children from 45 different countries, including the U.S.
Nicole C. Mullen
Nicole C. Mullen was brought up in a Christian and musical family in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her grandfathers on both sides were Pentecostal preachers. She began singing at age two with her mother, father, and two sisters. At the age of 12 she wrote her first song. Although Nicole was raised in a home full of love and support, she is no stranger to heartache and pain. She often speaks of growing up being teased and taunted by other children on the bus. They called her ‘homemade’ because of the way she looked and the clothes she wore. Even then she clung to stories of Esther, the orphan girl who became Queen, and David, the shepherd boy who became King. They became her encouragement. She is quoted as saying; “the not-so-good-old days can make you weak or make you brave.” She has chosen the latter.
Nicole’s ability to captivate an audience by telling a story, sharing from the scriptures or singing a song, has earned her many awards. She has won multiple Dove Awards, for Female Vocalist and Contemporary Song of the Year, and is the first African American to win Songwriter of the Year. She has also been nominated for two GRAMMY Awards.
Prior to being married to her husband David Mullen, Nicole was a victim of domestic violence. For three years, she endured physical and mental abuse at the hand of her former husband. Overcoming obstacles of shame, hurt and embarrassment, Nicole ministers to those who are broken in spirit.
Her choice has led her to start two mentorship programs, which she is very involved in during the week. Her nonprofit, Baby Girls Club, mentors girls between the ages of 5 and 18, teaching them the love of Christ through the arts. Team NCM trains young boys and girls gifted in the arts to showcase their talents, while growing as disciples of Jesus Christ. A mother of three, Nicole has penned two children’s books, Black, White, and Tan, and Baby Love, and is currently working on an autobiography
Tamela Mann, who made her film debut in Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 2005, is best known for making millions laugh alongside her real-life husband David in the hit TBS comedy “Meet the Browns.” The mother of four also inspires souls through her gospel music and her service in ministry. She and David teach a class at their church, “Biblical Marriage in a Practical World.” (They also teach “The Art of Arguing.”) The Manns celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary this year.
Joining future gospel superstars Kirk Franklin & The Family in the early ’90s, Tamela was a featured soloist on tracks like the GRAMMY-nominated “Lean On Me,” featuring Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly and Bono. But livin’ the good life hasn’t always been easy for the youngest of 14 children, born to a mother with a third grade education who was largely unemployed. Tamela left home at age 16 due to a verbally abusive stepfather, but trust and faithfulness, combined with a healthy dose of talent and drive, has brought Tamela to a place of gratitude and solace.
“I love all of the wonderful things I have been able to do in the movies and TV,” says Tamela. “I also love singing for audiences and inspiring people, but there are times when I look out at the audience, close my eyes and forget they are there – and all I see is Jesus in the front row and I’m singing my heart out for him as if it’s the last time I will ever do it. That’s the love the God inspires in me which makes everything else in my life possible.”
Until her courageous battle with cancer ended earlier this year, MaLinda Sapp, wife of gospel powerhouse, Pastor Marvin Sapp, served alongside her husband of 15 years as the administrative pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., a role that took on numerous forms. In addition to her tireless ministry service, MaLinda was manager of Marvin’s professional recording career, while balancing motherhood to their three children, Marvin II, Mikaila and Madisson.
“Lady MaLinda,” as she was affectionately known by her church family, was a master’s level psychologist, a licensed professional counselor, a dynamic speaker and college professor. As friends and family gathered to mourn the loss of this remarkable woman, the void was apparent. But MaLinda’s legacy of humble service to others will live on, and in the words of a close family friend, “Last night as I was thinking about what to say today, the Lord gave me these two words [to show me what He’d given to MaLinda]: ‘early retirement.’” Amen.
Kim Cash Tate
When Kim Cash Tate graduated from George Washington University Law School, she expected to live and practice law in Washington, D.C. the rest of her life. Marriage, children, moving to the nearly all-white Madison, Wisc., and eventually a prominent career as an author and speaker, were not on her radar at the time. Yet all of that and more has come to pass.
In 2009, as Kim was focused on her new publishing contract with Thomas Nelson Fiction, which released her novel Faithful in 2010, Women of Faith, which produces women’s conferences attended by more than four million in more than 70 cities across North America, had Kim on their short list.
“I’d only had one novel published, and it hadn’t exactly topped the bestseller lists...,” Kim shares. “[Women of Faith] speakers were enormously gifted, and that gift had been honed over many, many years. Me? Most I’d done was speak a few times to a couple hundred women in churches. I needed to be a high-profile speaker prior to promotion to the ‘big stage.’”
In her first book, More Christian Than African-American, (VMI, 2008) she explains why defining ourselves by an ethnic group or ideology alienates us and results in a bitter and Godless world. We’re glad that today, that no-nonsense approach to faith has captured the attention of thousands on that very ‘big stage’ Kim found unlikely just one year ago.
One of the most celebrated women in gospel music, CeCe Winans, 46, has been a consistently vocal and passionate woman of substance...wherever the road has taken her. She revels not in her accolades – which include just about every music award on the planet, including the GRAMMY – nor in her renown, having graced the covers of high-profile magazines nationwide and on some of the biggest TV shows in the nation, including Oprah, The Today Show and Live with Regis & Kathie Lee.
In 2009, CeCe reunited with her brother/duet partner BeBe to record their ninth album, the critically acclaimed Still. When she’s not performing on the road, this wife and mother of two, serves on the worship team at her local church.
Winans has long partnered with World Vision, an international relief organization that serves the world’s poorest children. “...World Vision just changed my life,” Winans recently told CNN. “It’s one thing to see commercials, and it’s another thing to see people suffering, and understanding that if we would just give a little bit of what we have, we could really change a person’s whole life.”
“We have to spread our faith everywhere we can,” CeCe says of her recent travels to Africa with World Vision. “People need it, people need to have hope. And that’s what we give, we give hope.”
Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher with a simple desire to teach the Word of God to women. Her ministry began in 1993 while she was in college. Although her plan was to become a television news anchor, God had other plans. While interning at a Christian radio station in Houston, she began to receive invitations to do Bible studies at small women’s events in the area. As an 18-year-old freshman, she went to these events and shared the simple truths of Scripture that she was studying in her own personal time with the Lord. She graduated with a master’s degree in Biblical studies.
In 1997 while in seminary, Priscilla met international motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who became her friend and mentor. She was asked to come on board as one of Ziglar Training Systems’ speakers and corporate trainers. In this capacity, she has provided training and inspiration to hundreds of companies and their employees across the country and abroad. Still, her desire was simply to teach.
She is now in full-time ministry to women across the country and the world. She is the author of A Jewel In His Crown, A Jewel in His Crown Journal, And We Are Changed: Transforming Encounters with God, He Speaks to Me, and Discerning the Voice of God (Moody Press). She is married to her best friend, Jerry, and the couple has three sons: Jackson, Jerry Jr. and Jude. Together she and Jerry have founded Going Beyond Ministries together, and its “Going Beyond Events...A Spiritual Reawakening” for women occur across the country several times a year.
When Christian singer/songwriter Natalie Grant burst onto the music scene in 1999, little did the gospel world know what an indelible mark she would make. Within just a few years, she rose to become one of Gospel music’s premier vocalists, winning the GMA’s Dove Award for Female Vocalist of the Year four years in a row. No small feat, not even for a woman as talented as Grant.
But just as her star was rising, this powerhouse performer began making an even larger mark on the world. Hearing of the plight of the victims of human trafficking worldwide, Grant traveled to India to see the injustice for herself. And when she returned, this mother of soon-to-be three little girls became an outspoken advocate for young girls and women sold into sexual slavery. In 2005, she founded The Home Foundation, and has raised over a quarter of a million dollars to fight the trafficking of women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. “This is not just in India,” she says. “More than 30,000 children were trafficked into the United States – into our own neighborhoods and towns."
Grant’s newest project, Love Revolution, released in 2010, calling all listeners to experience the revolutionary power of love by reaching out to love others. Of such is the substance of her faith and her life…and undoubtedly the legacy she is building for her children.
“I’m not a hero, I’m just human,” Grant writes on her website. “And if we have a heart beating on the inside of us, how could we possibly turn away from the most innocent among us being ravaged and raped? …I admit that I have been way too self-involved and self-absorbed most days to even take notice of the rest of the world. But thank God he woke me from my selfish slumber and stirred me to action…Whatever issue it is that stirs you to action, I pray you will respond.”
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