The Stellar Award nominees in 28 categories were announced today in Chicago. The milestone 35th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards will tape on Friday, March 27 at the Las Vegas Orleans Arena.
The Stellar Awards recognizes the year's best performances in the genre, honors Gospel music icons and acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals instrumental in advocating for the industry. Gospel music’s most epic celebration is co-hosted for the first time by rising Gospel superstars and Stellar Award winners Koryn Hawthorne and Jonathan McReynolds.
Don Jackson, Founder of the Stellar Awards and Chairman of Central City Productions, Inc. commented, “I am elated to celebrate this landmark 35th year of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards. Our flagship show is now one of the longest-running nationally televised African American awards programs in history. We are proud to honor Gospel music artists and industry professionals for their priceless contributions to Gospel music. We look forward to another spectacular weekend of family-friendly entertainment in Las Vegas.”
In addition to celebrating the year’s best album releases, Jackson will bestow special honors upon Gospel greats who have elevated the genre. This year’s James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award will honor none other than the iconic Clark Sisters - Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark Cole, Twinkie Clark and Jacky Clark Chisholm -- who hold a collective fifteen Stellar Awards, in addition to the Thomas Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award (2007). Additional special honorees will be named at a later date.
Veteran Gospel collective Donald Lawrence Presents The Tri-City Singers leads the field of nominees this year with nine nominations. The powerhouse choir and its leader earned recognition this year for its work on the album “Goshen” (RCA Inspiration) in the key categories of Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Choir of the Year, Producer of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year, Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year, and Contemporary Choir of the Year.
With eight nominations, Gospel icon and Stellar Awards Host emeritus Kirk Franklin is being recognized by the voting body for excellence in the categories of Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year, and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year for his work on “Long Live Love” (Fo Yo Soul/RCA/RCA Inspiration). Tasha Cobbs Leonard continues to bless audiences with her gift and is rewarded this year with eight nominations for her work on “Heart. Passion. Pursuit. Live at Passion City Church” (Motown Gospel), including Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year, and Praise and Worship Album of the Year. She is also nominated for Producer of the Year for her work on William Murphy’s “Settle Here” (RCA Inspiration) project.
Receiving seven nominations this year, JJ Hairston continues the praise party with his project “Miracle Worker” (JamesTown Music/Entertainment One), recognized in the categories of Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Choir of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year, Contemporary Choir of the Year and Praise and Worship Album of the Year.
Choirs continue to inspire Gospel audiences and raise the roof with songs of praise, and this year Bishop Paul S. Morton & The Full Gospel Ministry of Worship (“A Month of Sundays”; Tehillah/Integrity Music/Tyscot) and John P. Kee (“I Made It Out”; Entertainment One) receive six and five nominations respectively, going head-to-head in the categories of Choir of the Year, Traditional Choir of the Year, Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year and Traditional Album of the Year.
Representing traditional, contemporary and urban music genres on the Gospel spectrum, Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers, William Murphy and Pastor Mike Jr. are blessed with four nominations each. Carr’s recognition comes from his work on “Bless Somebody Else” (RCA Inspiration), which earned nods for Duo/Chorus Group of the Year, Traditional Duo/Chorus Group of the Year, Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year and Traditional Album of the Year. Murphy’s “Settle Here” (RCA Inspiration) generated praise in the categories of Male Vocalist of the Year, Producer of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year and Praise and Worship Album of the Year. Bringing hip hop flavor to the Gospel space, Pastor Mike Jr.’s debut album “Live Free” (Black Smoke Worldwide) received nominations for Song of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year and Rap/Hip Hop Gospel Album of the Year.
Other artists earning multiple Stellar nominations include: The Walls Group, Todd Dulaney, Maranda Curtis, Fresh Start Worship, Le’Andria Johnson, Jekalyn Carr and Jerard & Jovaun.
The Stellar Awards show taping will return to The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, March 27, 2020 and is open to the public, with ticket prices ranging from $50 - $200 at www.ticketmaster.com . The week's activities begin with the Stellar Gospel Radio Awards & Showcase, held on Thursday, March 26, honoring top radio stations and announcers serving urban Gospel music audiences, followed by the 2020 Stellar Gospel Music Awards Pre-Show to showcase non-televised award winners. Public tickets for each event go on sale Saturday, February 1 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
SUMMARY OF 2020 STELLAR AWARDS TOP NOMINEES
Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers – 9 Nominations
Kirk Franklin – 8 Nominations
Tasha Cobbs Leonard – 8 Nominations
JJ Hairston – 7 Nominations
Bishop Paul S. Morton- 6 Nominations
John P. Kee- 5 Nominations
Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers– 4 Nominations
William Murphy– 4 Nominations
Pastor Mike, Jr. – 4 Nominations
Maranda Curtis – 3 Nominations
Fresh Start Worship – 3 Nominations