Anthony Brown & group therApy made history as their album, “Everyday Jesus,” was blessed with 10 trophies during the 31st Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at the Las Vegas Orleans Arena. In a Stellar Awards first, the gospel songwriter-turned-singer and his group won each of its 10 nominations – a feat that hasn’t been done since Bishop Marvin Sapp’s 7 for 7 wins in 2009. Celebrating and honoring the best of Gospel music’s artists, writers and industry professionals, the Stellar Awards also honored Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s “Any Given Sunday” with four awards, with Tasha Cobbs rounding out the top three recipients with three honors for her album “One Place Live.”
Grammy-nominated Anthony Brown & group therApy kicked-off the 31st Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards with a spirited, crowd-pleasing medley consisting of “Bless the Lord” and their Billboard Gospel Airplay chart-topping hit “Worth.” Their performance brought the packed house to their feet demonstrating why they garnered top honors with 10 wins.
During the live show, Anthony Brown & group therApy took home trophies in the much sought-after categories of Artist of the Year, State Farm Song of the Year (“Worth”) and Male Vocalist of the Year. The wins secured their spot as the overall winner of the 31sst Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards and rounded out their pre-show award accolades, which included Group/Duo of the Year, CD of the Year, Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, Producer of the Year (Anthony Brown and Justin Savage) and Record Music Packaging (Denise Trotman and Conni Treantefeles).
When accepting his award for Male Vocalist of the Year, he said, “As a baritone, as a lower voice, as a raspy voice person, I never felt good enough to sing, period. I always felt like my voice was a curse. And then one day God told me I gave you what I wanted to give you. And I want you to use it for my glory.”
“There’s a system to God’s order. He finds you in the pasture,” the State Farm Song of the Year recipient also proclaimed. “He finds you in the pasture where you serve. He doesn’t just find you on stage. He finds you while you are serving. We have to serve our way into the kingdom.”
Three-time Stellar Award winner Tasha Cobbs returned to the stage to perform “Put A Praise On It” and to accept three awards for Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year and Praise and Worship CD of the Year. The elated first-ever six time Stellar Award nominee shared with the audience, “There was a hunger in my heart, a longing in my spirit to be at the feet of Jesus. I was thinking, the world is talking about formation, but I believe the church needs to get back to our formation and that’s at the feet of Jesus.”
Sharing her acoustic versions of “Fill Me Up” and “I’m Yours” earlier in the program, Casey J was surprised later on when she was donned New Artist of the Year for her debut album, “The Truth.” Proud and humbled, she shared her heart: “As much as we support Gospel music, make sure you’re praying for those artists – beyond just buying their albums – pray for them. And I just hope that you share that with me, as I pray for you, you pray for us.”
After accepting Choir of the Year at the top of the show, Grammy Award-winning Pastor Charles Jenkins and his electrifying choir Fellowship Chicago captivated the audience with their smash No. 1 hit, “WAR.” Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago’s sophomore album, “Any Given Sunday,” continues to delight the Gospel community as they took home a total of four awards, including Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year (Charles Jenkins), Music Video of the Year and Traditional Choir of the Year. Jenkins, an Inspired People recording artist, proclaimed, “Every church that sings – if you fight for victory anywhere – we agree with you – this means war!”
Brian Courtney Wilson, Hezekiah Walker, Kirk Franklin, Travis Greene and William McDowell also provided inspirational, rousing and spirit-filled performances throughout evening. The audience raised their voices in song during an all-star collaboration featuring the Dream Team of Gospel Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Karen Clark Sheard and Bishop Marvin Sapp’s medley of “A Secret Place,” “Never Would Have Made It,” “That Name” and “Stand.”
During the show, Stellar Gospel Music Awards Founder Don Jackson and nominee Erica Campbell bestowed the Stellar Honors, a special award and medallion commemorating excellence in their respective fields upon versatile film and television comic actor Jonathan Slocumb, and legendary Gospel figures multi-platinum recording artist and nationally syndicated radio host Yolanda Adams, highest-charting Gospel recording artist of all time Bishop Marvin Sapp, and featured vocalist on the landmark recording, “Oh, Happy Day” and the very first Stellar Awards host in 1985 Lady Tramaine Hawkins.
The Allstate James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by award-winning producer songwriter Byron Cage and the reigning queen of Gospel Pastor Shirley Caesar posthumously to Grammy Award-winner O’landa Draper with riveting tribute performances by his true disciples Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker and Ricky Dillard. The Brat Pack “turned up the testimony” with a medley of his well-known songs: “He Touched Me,” “Gotta Feelin’,” “My Soul Doth Magnify,” and “I Gotta Reason.” Accepting the award on his behalf was his sister Teresa A. Draper, who was deeply touched that his songs continue to resonate with fans.
Joe Ligon, founder and lead vocalist of the Mighty Clouds of Joy, also received the Chevrolet Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award, which was presented by Dr. Bobby Jones who accepted on his behalf.
Prior to the show, this year’s celebration began with urban contemporary Gospel singer Janice Gaines hosting a live stream on the star-studded red carpet featuring Gospel greats, television, film and political luminaries such as self-help author Iyanla Vanzant, actresses Wendy Raquel Robinson (Here We Go Again), LeToya Luckett (Here We Go Again) and Trinitee Stokes (K.C. Undercover), War Room actor T.C. Stallings, Pastor Marlon Lock, nationally syndicated radio host Willie Moore, Jr., award-winning photographer and Director Derek Blanks, and Gospel singers Jason Nelson, Jonathan McReynolds, Dorinda Clarke Cole, Alexis Spight, Briana Babineaux, Maurette Brown Clark, Tim Bowman, Jr., Jekalyn Carr, Pure N Hart, Jada Redmond, Virtue, Robyn and Tiff Joy.
The Stellar Gospel Music Awards Pre-Show also occurred the day before on Friday, Feb. 19, to celebrate non-televised awards winners, such as The Rance Allen Group for Traditional Group/Duo of the Year, Tina Campbell for Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year and Dr. Marabeth Gentry and The Thomas A. Dorsey Foundation for the Thomas A. Dorsey Notable Achievement Award. The Stellar Gospel Radio Awards & Showcase, honoring top radio stations and announcers serving urban gospel music audiences, followed Saturday, Feb. 20 with Praise 104.1-WPRS in Washington D.C. as Major Market of the Year, AllNationsRadio.net as Internet Station of the Year and Tracy Bethea Bodie of Memphis, Tennessee’s WHAL, earning Gospel Announcer of the Year.