*Platinum artist Marvin Sapp topped the list of winners during the 26TH ANNUAL STELLAR GOSPEL MUSIC AWARDS announced Saturday night during the show’s taping at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry House Theater.
Sapp took home four awards, including Artist of the Year, Traditional Male of the Year, CD of the Year and Traditional CD of the Year.
A highlight of the evening, an emotion-filled finale performance of his biggest hit “Never Would Have Made It” with Stellar Awards host Donnie McClurkin, created an overwhelming audience response as he dedicated the night to his recently-deceased wife Dr. Malinda P. Sapp.
The Grand Ole Opry landmark was transformed into a spirit-filled sanctuary as Pastor McClurkin led the ‘congregation’ in a prayer for Sapp and provided one of the night’s biggest moments.
“It’s great to be honored by your peers, and you do your best to give honor and glory to God,” said Sapp. “But it’s bittersweet with my wife not here with me.”
Before introducing the performance, McClurkin added, “If it wasn’t for Pastor Marvin Sapp’s wife Malinda, this song would have never made it on the CD.”
Other top winners included James Fortune & FIYA who received two awards for Group/Duo of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year, and presented his award to his wife who joined him on stage for standing by him while they were homeless, sleeping out of their car and expecting their third child. James Fortune was also named Contemporary Male of the Year. Seasoned vets Bebe & Cece Winans won awards individually and collectively; the duo received the Urban Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year and Music Video of the Year awards. Bebe Winans also received the Song of the Year award while CeCe Winans was named Contemporary Female of the Year.
Karen Clark Sheard received the first-ever Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year award, presented to her by legends Shirley Caesar (former member of The Caravans) and Vickie Winans. In addition, Serump/Psalms/Universal Music Group artist Kristina Halloway won the hotly-contested Best New Artist category.