Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Amazing Worth" - Charles Butler & Trinity

"Amazing Worth"
Charles Butler & Trinity (2014)

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor

If God is worthy of our worship--and He is--then Charles Butler and Trinity's single, "Amazing Worth," can be added to the soundtrack of our worship experience.

EPM Music Group (founded by Earnest Pugh) announces the digital availability of "Amazing Worth" as the second single from the urban contemporary ensemble's project, Better.  The group's connection to Pugh is a strong one: Charles Butler and Trinity provided backing vocals on his 2009 smash, "Rain on Us."

A radio-friendly tune, "Amazing Worth" is written by James Ziegler and produced by Morgan Turner.  Jeremiah Hicks passionately handles the lead duties.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Wardlaw Brothers make movie debut in "On Angel's Wings"

The Wardlaw Brothers (TWB) make their film debut today in the opening of the movie, On Angel's Wings, starring Reginald Vel Johnson, Robin Givens, Taylor Faye Ruffin, and Sweet Brown.  In addition to appearing in the movie, the group's hit "Right Now Lord" and cover of "Here I Am to Worship" are featured.  Luther Wardlaw also wrote the movie's theme song, "Angel's Wings."
On Angel's Wings is directed by Aaron L. Williams (Preaching to the Pastor; The Pastor's Secrets; Mama, I Want to Sing). It's a family film about a star player for the Angels soccer team who gets injured, and Coach Carter (Vel Johnson) decides to play the water girl, McKenzie Adams (Ruffin). After embarrassing herself in front of the entire school, her luck changes when she meets an angel that grants her three wishes. Unable to keep it a secret, she takes her little brother Josh (Tyler Humphrey) and their dog Zeus on a whirlwind of fun and adventure.  Their excitement proves short-lived when McKenzie's luck runs out and she has to figure things out on her own. In this coming of age family movie, McKenzie, Josh, and their dog Zeus find that miracles really do happen everyday, because they happen whenever we help someone in need.
On Angel's Wings premieres at AMC Theatre, 9168 Mall of Louisiana Blvd in Baton Rouge, LA, today, April 13, at 3 PM. Tickets to the premiere are available at www.digitalmediala.com/angels.  Use the promo code "Angels" to receive $1.00 off each ticket purchase.
You can watch the official movie trailer here

Friday, April 4, 2014

Take 6 to be inducted into Gospel Music Hall of Fame

Take 6 will soon take its place alongside other vocal groups like The Fisk Jubilee Singers and The Winans in one of gospel's grand "halls."  The a cappella sextet, along with Brown Bannister, Rich Mullins, and the Gaither Vocal Band, are the newest inductees into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. 

Take 6's contemporary brand of gospel, heavily laced with jazz and R&B, has netted them twelve Grammys, five Dove Awards, and one Soul Train Award. The group was formed (and named the Gentleman's Estate Quartet) in 1980 at Alabama's Oakwood College. Since becoming Take 6 in 1987, they have released 18 albums; the most recent is entitled One, on the Shanachie label.

The Gospel Music Association also announced that Dr. Bobby Jones is one of five GMA Honors recipients for 2014.

The induction and honors ceremony will take place April 29, 2014, at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena in Nashville.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"While I Wait" - Trice Staten

"While I Wait"
Trice Staten (2013)
Available on iTunes

By Shaundria Williams 
Special Contributor

Have you ever been waiting on God to do something for you? Open a door?  Give you a sign? Create a breakthrough?  Ms. Trice Staten has a word of encouragement for you.  Depending on where you are in the waiting process, it may not feel like encouragement; but listen to it a few times.  The beautiful, worshipful, gentle self-penned ballad, "While I Wait," is sure to usher you from the bitterness and doubt often associated with waiting into anticipatory praise.  

The first stanza ever so clearly expresses the childlike expectations that we have concerning God’s blessings and the care that He takes in uniquely crafting each one just for us.  In her chorus, Trice stands on the surety that the blessing is in fact on the way, and she softly declares that she will be faithful to her relationship with God by maintaining her praise and worship for Him–while she waits.  The melody might sound like a lullaby, but the lyrics are an honest reflection of the ups and downs of waiting on God.  Trice yet encourages us to praise Him, worship Him, and draw closer to Him while we wait.  
SOAPBOX:  Someone might wonder how.  How can I praise?  How can I worship when all of this is going on?  I’ve been waiting so long, won’t people think I’m faking? Well listen, regardless of your circumstance, situation, or even the timing–He’s still God and He’s still worthy.  In spite of yesterday, you’re still here.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Don’t let him steal your praise, kill your hope, and destroy your blessing.  Remember, your praise is your weapon and your worship is your duty.  Let Ms. Trice Staten help get you back on the right track.
The Chicago native's debut single, “While I Wait,” (produced by Matt Jones) is available on iTunes, Amazon, & Google Play.  The full-length project is expected to drop this spring. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Official Music Video - "Amazing" - Livre'

"Amazing" will hit iTunes this Tuesday, March 25.  In the meantime, enjoy the official music video by urban inspirational worship singers, Livre', whose self-titled debut project is expected to be released this summer.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Divine Connections' 4th Anniversary Celebration: Songs, Dance, and 'Prayse'

Mime group Krazie Prayse from Burlington, NC, performs "Take My Life (Holiness)" at Saturday's anniversary of Divine Connections in Durham. Check out their YouTube channel here, and like them on Facebook here.

The W.H. Amos Praise and Worship Mass Choir wrecks the house.

GMF recently interviewed Deloris Williams of Divine Connections. Read it here: Deloris Williams, entrepreneur and author, talks about the value of 'divine connections'.  

See more pics from yesterday's celebration on the Gospel Music Fever Facebook page. GMF thanks Deloris for the opportunity to be a part.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

R.I.P. Edna Tatum

Joseph Middleton of The Golden Era Gospel Blog informed GMF of the passing of Edna Tatum.

Edna was a longtime commentator and broadcaster who was also recognized for her narrative collaborations with Rev. James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, and others.

I was introduced to Edna by Bro. Steve Harris in 2012, and I fondly remember her warmth and her encouraging words to me as a newcomer to the GMWA convention.

GMF extends sympathy to her family, friends, and industry colleagues.

Read about Edna's ministry and homegoing arrangements in the Los Angeles Sentinel

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Annual Gospel Fashion/Dinner Show to benefit Duke Stroke Center - April 5

Joy Armour-Williams and A Touch of Joy Outreach Ministries, Inc. are calling on the community to come out and help bring awareness to, and raise money for, the Duke Stroke Center. 

4th Annual Gospel Fashion/Dinner Show
Saturday, April 5, 2014
6-10 PM (doors open at 5:30)
Campus Hill Community Center
2100 S. Alston Ave
Durham, NC

Tickets: Adults - $25; Children - $15; Under 5 - Free

Tickets may be purchased at www.atjomi.com.

Click flyer to enlarge

Monday, March 10, 2014

Virginia Caesar Reed, sister of Shirley Caesar, passes

Please join GMF in sending prayers up on behalf of Pastor Shirley Caesar and family. Pastor Caesar's last surviving sister Virginia Caesar Reed has gone to be with the Lord (March 10, according to Scarborough and Hargett Funeral Home, Inc.), after several years of declining health.  She was 89 years old.  GMF thanks Biddy Newborn for passing along the news.

In Pastor Caesar's autobiography The Lady, The Melody, & The Word, Reed said of her younger sister, "By the time Shirley was born, I had already moved away from home, but I would often bring her over to spend the night with me. No one could have told me that my little sister would one day sing for presidents, governors, and heads of state. I am very proud of her."

The homegoing celebration has been announced for Sunday, March 16, at 2:00 PM, at Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church.  The church is located at 3100 Sanderford Road in Raleigh, NC. 

Deloris Williams, entrepreneur and author, talks about the value of 'divine connections'

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

Deloris Williams makes an impact by helping others to be successful. The only match to her talent for creating meaningful connections among people, businesses, and organizations is her ambition as a businesswoman, author, and the CEO of Divine Connections. Deloris has an entrepreneurial spirit, and GMF's Libra Boyd invited her to talk about her company's impact, her current book, and the key to effective networking.

Libra:  Divine Connections is in its fourth year of existence. Tell us the inspiration for and purpose of Divine Connections.

Deloris:  I am a self-motivated entrepreneur at heart. Through various experiences with several companies, the desire to pursue my own business grew stronger every day. From that experience, I gained a wealth of knowledge, recognizing that believing in myself, getting organized, and creating a system for success would enable me to accomplish my goals. I believe that goals are met when the system you create produces the positive results you desire.

Divine Connections was birthed from my life experiences that derived from people looking for specific services. Somehow, the requestors knew I had connections with individuals to meet needs and provide solutions. The purpose of it is to spread the good news of things happening in the community. Divine Connections is divided into two major categories which are publications and events. My company publishes a quarterly magazine (Divine Connections Magazine) that includes entrepreneurs, businesses, and opportunities; inspirational quotes; community events; and overall inspiration. The other months, I publish a newsletter sharing more vital information as I make new connections. I also host an annual event to celebrate my yearly accomplishments which includes various ministry gifts, praise dancing, miming, vendors, friends, family, and the community--giving God all the glory for what He has done!

Libra:  How would you explain your company's impact?

Deloris:  My company allows business owners, churches, and the community to stay connected by providing resources that impact the quality of life. There are so many positive things going on in the community, church, and world, but they sometimes are overlooked or suppressed because the media pushes a lot of [negativity]. Divine Connections is that media [outlet] that stands for God, positive people, positive places, and positive media. Divine Connections is that light that shines to let the world know, “You Can Do It!  Make It Happen & Handle Your Business.” God has given me this opportunity to shine the light through Divine Connections.

Libra:  Speaking of “You Can Do It!  Make It Happen & Handle Your Business,” you've published a book by that name, and it seems to be as motivational as it is practical. Tell us more about it.

Deloris:  I wanted to share my experiences with others and not only let them know that they can accomplish the “impossible,” but give them some knowledge to assist them on their journey through my book, You Can Do It! Make It Happen & Handle Your Business. In this book, I simply lay out things I accomplished in my life, my thought process, and the plan of action of how I made things happen with the help of the Lord. I cover a vast [range] of information such as graduating from college with no loans; owning a home (as a single person); starting and growing a business; and maintaining focus, gratitude, and dependency of God.

Libra:  It's apparent through your endeavors that you promote the power of networking. What do you believe to be the single most important key to creating those "divine connections"?

Deloris:  If I had to give just one answer I would say character. You can have the greatest gift, resource, connection, or service but character will help you maintain and grow your divine connections. This will allow you to build relationships with your network. Character builds the foundation of who you are and the value you possess. 

Click to enlarge
Deloris will celebrate the fourth anniversary of Divine Connections Saturday, March 15, with a gospel musical featuring The Yanceys, John Thorpe & Truth, Tre G and Exodus, and others.  Ticketed admission is $20 and includes a copy of Williams' book.  It all takes place at:

Bethesda Elementary School
2009 South Miami Blvd
Durham, NC
1-5 PM

For more information about Deloris Williams & Divine Connections, her book, or tickets for the anniversary event, visit www.divineconnections.info.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Highway QCs' Spencer Taylor: "If you're gonna sing gospel, you got to know the Lord"

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

Spencer Taylor has been on gospel's battlefield with the Highway QC's for nearly 60 of the group's 69 years, and at 86 years old, he shows no signs of putting on the brakes.

The Highway QC's are legendary. This is the same group whose line-up once consisted of Lou Rawls, Sam Cooke, and Johnnie Taylor (no relation). A younger Spencer Taylor probably could've chosen the secular road at some point, too; instead, he stuck with gospel. His fans sure are glad.

When I caught up with the dapper Mr. Taylor a while back, he was standing both unnoticed and undisturbed in the back of the auditorium he'd be wrecking in just a few more minutes with his most requested number, "Oh, How Wonderful." Admittedly, I was impressed that he wasn't cooped up in a dressing room or luxury bus waiting for his time to hit the stage. Instead, he was just hanging outchillin'visibly enjoying the performance of a lesser known quartet. As engaged as he was, he didn't seem the least bit startled when I approached; and when I requested that he weigh in on his group's longevity and offer advice to upcoming groups, he chimed in without hesitation.

Taylor's take on the group's relevance after nearly 70 years...
Well, through Christ....Anything you're doing...only stands by the Word of God, and that has been our success. Staying with Godyou've got to stay with God.
Taylor's advice to upcoming groups...
[You] must be born again. Be a Christian. If you're gonna sing gospel, you got to know the Lord. That's your first step. And I mean, [there's] no other way around it....This is a must; it's not a might. You know, you see some people who can sing, and they don't know the Lord—and I could never try to pick out no one—but they don't know Christ. They have a good voice, but they don't realize how far they could go if they just accept Him and let Him be their total controller....You look at all them other people; they make millions of dollars, but if you sing for the Lord, don't worry about that. You ain't gotta worry about that, because He will supply your every need.  And that's so clear, ya know....The first thing you got to do is be a born again Christian...can't be straddlin' the fence. Can't serve two masters; the Bible says you'll love one and hate the other one.
Sage advice, I called it.

"But it's right," Taylor insisted. "What I'm saying is...I don't know anything to tell you but right. I make a habit of trying to tell people right."

Friday, February 21, 2014

Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers Recordings 1949-1958

Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers
Recordings 1949-1958
Gospel Friend (2013) 

By Libra Boyd, Founder & Editor
Gospel Music Fever

Fans of Golden Era gospel will enjoy the current release on the Gospel Friend imprint, Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers. Strolling, strutting, and sometimes shouting down Memory Lane with Clara Ward and the ladies presents 25 reasons "famous" managed to work its way into the group's name.

Step back at least 55 years, and you will hear gospel singing at its finest. Prior to the days of heavy studio overdubs, electronic instruments, and pitch correction software, there were skilled voices honed from raw talent. Frances Steadman, Henrietta Waddy, Thelma Jackson, Willa Ward Royster (to whom the CD is dedicated), Marion Williams, and Clara were all top notch lead vocalists. On this particular CD, Marion Williams--the only bona fide gospel artist to date to receive a Kennedy Center Honor--leads several of the numbers, including one of their hits, W.H. Brewster's "I'm Climbing Higher and Higher" and her self-written "I'll Be There."  In contrast to Marion's robust delivery is Clara's refined soprano on Robert Anderson's "Prayer Changes Things," as well as Willa's recognizable timbre on "Glory, Glory Hallelujah" and Frances Steadman's stirring near-baritone on "God's Amazing Love."

As I said earlier, forget about the presence of the studio enhancements that give a lot of today's gospel its marketable sound.  You won't find them on this CD. What you'll find are pure and piping unobstructed vocals complemented by piano and organ on the earliest dated tracks, and then drums and "sacred steel" guitar as the 1950s ushers in additional musical accompaniment.

I do not own Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers on vinyl, so I am ecstatic that producer Per Notini of Sweden has made this collection available in a format that gospel music aficionados can enjoy for years to come. If this reissue is ice cream, then the cherry on top is Robert Sacré's comprehensive liner notes with photos interspersed.

In the United States, Clara Ward and the Famous Ward Singers is available at www.cityhallrecords.com.

"Prayer Changes Things" - "God's Amazing Love" 

Fever Meter
SMOKIN' (4 of 5 Stars)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Father Charles G. Hayes, founder & pastor of Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, has died

Jordan K. Phillips informed GMF that Dr. Charles G. Hayes, founder and pastor of Chicago's Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer, has died.  He was 76 years old. 

Dr. Hayes and his famed choir, the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir, also known as The Mighty Warriors, recorded more than 30 albums over a 50-year period, including the perennial numbers "Jesus Can Work It Out" and "Step Back, Let God Do It."

Our deepest condolences are extended to Dr. Hayes' family, friends and fans, and the Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer.  GMF honors his rich legacy of ministry and music. The Black Gospel Blog's Bob Marovich details it beautifully here

Homegoing arrangements are below.  Click the image to enlarge.  Services will be streamed live.

Click to enlarge

Saturday, February 8, 2014

R.I.P. Sammy Terry of The Spiritual Highlights

Terry (seated) & The Spiritual Highlights
Stevie Macklin shared the news that Sammy Terry, lead singer of Sammy Terry and The Spiritual Highlights, passed away Thursday night, February 6, in Danville, VA, after several years of declining health. He was 73 years-old. GMF extends condolences to his family, friends, and the quartet community. 

Terry was a member of The Flying Clouds of Danville, The Sons of Calvary, and the Gospel Persuaders before organizing The Spiritual Highlights in the mid-1990's (click the photo to enlarge).  The group went on to record a pair of projects, God is a Good God and He's My Rock

Arrangements are as follows:

Monday, February 10, 2014
6 - 7 PM
Fisher & Watkins Funeral Home
707 Wilson St.
Danville, VA 24541

Homegoing Service
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
12 Noon
Bibleway Cathedral
215 Grant St.
Danville, VA 24541

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Our Father" - Jeff Carnie and Spectrum

"Our Father"
Jeff Carnie and Spectrum (2013)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever Editor

Uptempo contemporary worship best describes the light and invocative "Our Father," from Jeff Carnie and Spectrum.  First released three years ago on the group's full-length project, Complete, the single has now been re-released nationally. 

The B.J. Putnum-penned number opens with an immediately recognizable biblical passage ("Our Father who is in Heaven...") set to a singable melody before Jeff and the group escort us to the chorus, taken from another familiar biblical passage: "Let everything that has breath...praise the Lord!"  There's plenty of fusion, from the spirited horn section and Cuban-flavored percussion in the interlude to the union of the well-known texts from Matthew 6:9-13 and Psalm 150.

Ever since he wrote his first song at age twelve, Jeff demonstrated talent and gifting for music ministry, though it wasn't immediately evident to Jeff himself.  Currently, he serves as worship pastor for the 8am and 9:30am services at First Baptist Church of Elk Grove (FBCEG), in California.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jamison & Wright-Pate win sing-off, will perform during Super Bowl Gospel Celebration

(Atlanta, GA)  Two talented and extraordinary women have been selected by gospel greats Kierra Sheard, J. Moss and Bishop Paul S. Morton for The American Family Insurance “Your Dream is Out There” Gospel Sensations Sing-Off. Kristen Jamison of Orangeburg, SC and Valaree Wright-Pate of Columbus, OH competed against eight contestants for an opportunity of a lifetime. Jamison and Wright-Pate will perform live January 31, at Madison Square Garden theatre during the 15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.

In addition to performing, the two winners will also enjoy an all-expense paid Super Bowl winning weekend, which includes tickets to the Big Game, Taste of the NFL, and Super Bowl Boulevard.

Although this is the fourth year American Family Insurance has served as the official sponsor of the NFL sanctioned Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, this is the first year of the Live Sing-Off, which garnered participants from across the country.

To watch videos and for more information about The American Family Insurance “Your Dream is Out There” Gospel Sensations Sing-Off, visit www.dreamsoutthere.com.

For more information about the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, visit www.superbowlgospel.com.

Ruth McLendon, wife of Elder Goldwire McLendon, has died

GMF extends condolences to Elder Goldwire McLendon and family in the passing of his wife Ruth, who transitioned January 25.

Read more about Mother McLendon's life and music here

Those who aren't already familiar with the McLendons' tenure with Philadelphia gospel ensemble and Savoy recording group The Savettes, will more than likely remember Elder McLendon earning the runner-up slot on Sunday Best 3, coming in behind Le'Andria Johnson.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Do What Jesus Says" - Jenise La Vonne

"Do What Jesus Says"
Jenise La Vonne (2013)
Available at iTunes

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

There's something about Jenise La Vonne that makes her message instantly believable.  Maybe it's that she conveys the lyrics of her single "Do What Jesus Says" with a not-often-used combination of gentle earnest.  Perhaps it's because she sings as if the lyrics are a part of her lived experience.  Whatever the likely reason, when Jenise ascends to the uppers of her alto register to reiterate, "I'll only do what, I'll only do what, I'll only do what Jesus says," you get that she means it.

It's just that simple.

And nearly as simple is the accompaniment, notably the barely audible strings underneath the more prominent acoustic guitar (and its periodic fret noise). Occasionally, Jenise backs herself like a reassuring voice of wisdom in the unhurried, introspective ballad.

Jenise is originally from Norcross, GA.  The singer/songwriter, aspiring author, and thespian describes her sound as a blend of contemporary gospel and contemporary christian.  This particular track leans strongly and beautifully toward the latter.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gospel Winners Announced at the 56th Grammy Awards


Congratulations to gospel winners (highlighted in yellow) at the 56th Grammy Awards, announced this evening in Los Angeles.

Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance
For new vocal gospel/CCM recordings. All sub-genres of gospel/CCM music are eligible.
    Track from: Grace [Live] [EMI Gospel/ Motown Gospel]
  2. HURRICANE Natalie Grant [Curb Records] 
  3. LORD, I NEED YOU Matt Maher
    Track from: All The People Said Amen (Live) [Essential Records] 
  4. OVERCOMER Mandisa
    Track from: Overcomer [Sparrow Records] 
  5. IF HE DID IT BEFORE... SAME GOD [LIVE] Tye Tribbett
    Track from: Greater Than [Live] [Motown Gospel]
Best Gospel Song
A Songwriter(s) Award.  (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

    Calvin Frazier & Deitrick Haddon, songwriters (Deitrick Haddon)
    [RCA Inspiration; Publishers: Deitrick Vaughn Haddon Publishing/Calvin Frazier Publishing] 
  2. IF HE DID IT BEFORE... SAME GOD [LIVE] Tye Tribbett, songwriter (Tye Tribbett)
    Track from: Greater Than [Live]
    [Motown Gospel; Publisher: Everything Fresh Entertainment LLC] 
    Wirlie Morris, Michael Paran, Charlie Wilson & Mahin Wilson, songwriters (Charlie Wilson)
    Track from: Love, Charlie
    [RCA Records / P Music Group Inc.; Publishers: Nephew Wirlie Music/EMI Music Publishing/Pacific Coast Pirate Publishing/Mamas Pebbly Publishing] 
    Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters (Erica Campbell)
    [My Block Inc / Eone Music; Publishers: That's Plum Song-EMI April/It's Tea Tyme-EMI April/Campbell Kids
  5. STILL Percy Bady, songwriter (Percy Bady Featuring Lowell Pye)
    Track from: Kingdom Inspirations
    [Maranatha! Music/K-Bizz Ent.; Publisher: Kingdom Bizz Songs BMI]
Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
A Songwriter(s) Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.
    Matt Bronleewe, Natalie Grant & Cindy Morgan, songwriters (Natalie Grant)[Curb Records; Publisher: Razor & Tie Music Publishing] 
    Steven Curtis Chapman, songwriter (Steven Curtis Chapman)Track from: The Glorious Unfolding
    [Reunion Records] 
    David Garcia, Ben Glover & Christopher Stevens, songwriters (Mandisa)Track from: Overcomer
    [Sparrow Records; Publishers: Ariose Music/9T One Songs/Meaux Mercy/LarryDavid Music/Capitol CMG Publishing/Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publishing/D Soul Music] 
    Toby McKeehan, Jamie Moore & Ryan Stevenson, songwriters (Tobymac)
    Track from: Eye On It
    [Forefront Records; Publishers: Achtober Songs/EMI CMG Publishing/Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publishing/Songs Of Emack/Jamnu Music/Hole-Steen Music] 
  5. WHOM SHALL I FEAR (GOD OF ANGEL ARMIES) Ed Cash, Scott Cash & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Chris Tomlin)Track from: Burning Lights
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records; Publishers: Sixsteps Songs/Worship Together Music/A Thousand Generations Publishing/EMI CMG Publishing/Alletrop Music/McTyeire Music]
Best Gospel Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal gospel recordings.
    Tasha Cobbs
    [EMI Gospel/ Motown Gospel] 
    Donald Lawrence
    [Quietwater Entertainment/EOne] 
    Bishop Paul S. Morton
    [Tehillah Music Group/EOne] 
    William Murphy[RCA Inspiration/ Verity Gospel Music Group]
    Tye Tribbett
    [Motown Gospel] 
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal contemporary Christian music recordings.
  1. WE WON'T BE SHAKEN Building 429
    [Essential Records]
    [Essential Records] 
  3. OVERCOMER Mandisa
    [Sparrow Records] 
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records] 
  5. BURNING LIGHTS Chris Tomlin
    [sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records] 

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Stellar Award Winners, Air dates, and Times

Congratulations to all of the 29th Annual Stellar Award winners!  See the list below and visit this link frequently for airdates and times in your market. 

AT&T Artist of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Ford Song of the Year
Kirk Franklin, “Take Me to the King” - Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Male Vocalist of the Year
Tye Tribbett, Greater Man (Motown Gospel)

Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Group/Duo of the Year Presented by Wal-Mart
Anthony Brown & group therAPy (Tyscot Music and Entertainment)

UNCF New Artist of the Year
Tasha Cobbs, Grace (Motown Gospel, formerly EMI)

CD of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

State Farm Choir of the Year
Hezekiah Walker, Azusa: The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration)

Producer of the Year
Fred Hammond & Derek “DC” Clark, United Tenors Hammond Hollister Roberson Wilson (RCA Inspiration)

Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year
Fred Hammond United Tenors, United Tenors Hammond Hollister Roberson Wilson (RCA Inspiration)

Traditional Group/Duo of the Year
John P. Kee and New Life, Life & Favor (Kee Music Group)

Contemporary Male of the Year
Anthony Brown of Anthony Brown & group therAPy (Tyscot Music and Entertainment)

Traditional Male of the Year
John P. Kee, Life & Favor (Kee Music Group) 

Contemporary Female of the Year
Tasha Cobbs, Grace (Motown Gospel, formerly EMI)                              

Traditional Female of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Contemporary CD of the Year
Tasha Cobbs, Grace (Motown Gospel, formerly EMI)

Traditional CD of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Urban/Inspirational Single of Performance of the Year
Tamela Mann, “Take Me to the King” - Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Music Video of the Year
Brand X for “Testimony” by Anthony Brown & group therAPy (Tyscot Music and Entertainment)

Traditional Choir of the Year
Hezekiah Walker, Azusa: The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration)

Contemporary Choir of the Year
Earl Bynum & the Mount Unity Choir, Bishop K.W. Brown Presents Earl Bynum & the Mount Unity Choir (K.W. Brown Ministries)

Special Event CD of the Year
Hezekiah Walker, Azusa: The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration)

Rap Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year
Lecrae, Gravity (Reach Records)

Children’s Project of the Year
Jekalyn Carr, Greater is Coming (Lunjeal/Malaco)

Quartet of the Year
Doc McKenzie & the Hi-Lites, Blessed (Ophir Entertainment)

Recorded Music Packaging of the Year
Patrick Dopson, Best Days (Tillyman Music)

Praise and Worship CD of the Year
Tamela Mann, Best Days (Tillyman Music)


Major Market (3 million and up)
WPZE 102.5/102.9, Atlanta - Lori Hall 

Large Market (1-3 million)
Heaven 600 - WCAO 600 AM, Baltimore - Lee Michaels

Medium Market (500,000-1 million)
The Light 103.9 WNNL, Raleigh - Jerry Smith

Small Market (Under 500,000)
WIMG - 1300 AM, Trenton - Ed Long

Internet Radio Station
Yes Lord Radio -YesLordRadio.com - Elder Howard C. Young, III & Rodrick J. Warren

Gospel Announcer
Cedric Bailey, Musical Soul Food - Norfolk/VA Beach, VA

Bishop Fritz Cobbs, father of Tasha Cobbs, passes

Bishop Fritz & Lady Bertha Cobbs
Our prayers are with Tasha Cobbs and her family in the passing of her father, Bishop Fritz Cobbs.  Singer Richard Smallwood was one of the first to report the passing early this morning and express condolences via his Facebook page.

Bishop Cobbs was the pastor of Jesup New Life Ministries, Inc., in Jesup, GA.  Tasha served under him until moving to Atlanta in 2006.  

She took to social media this morning to thank her friends and supporters for the outpour of love.  "Hey Family!" she tweeted. "Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers! They are felt! Love You Guys! [sic]"

Just this past weekend, Tasha garnered Stellar Awards for her album Grace, which features "Break Every Chain."

Arrangements are entrusted to Royal Funeral Home of Jesup.  Read the obituary here

Friday, January 17, 2014

LIVE STREAM ► Stellar Awards Weekend Backstage Pass

Access the live stream below. Chat with others while you watch and have immediate access to on-demand footage and photos from the backstage pass weekend! Peep the schedule of events at the bottom of the page so you don't miss a thing!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Live Interviews and Rehearsals 
1:30 - 3:30 PM EST (time subject to change) 

29th Annual Stellars Pre-Show 
7:00 - 10:00 PM EST
Hosted by Sonya Blakey & Angenella

Interviews with Earnest Pugh, Anita Wilson, Beverly Crawford, Kevin Vasser, J. Moss, JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, Chanel Haynes, Monica Lisa Stevenson, Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis, Kevin Lemon & Higher Calling, Livre, and more.
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stellar Gospel & Radio Announcers Awards

10:00 AM - 2:30 PM EST
Hosted by  Sonya Blakey, Angenella, & Michael Davis

Red Carpet
5:00 - 6:30 PM  EST
Hosted by Tye Tribbett

Get up-close and personal with all the Stellar Awards nominees, gospel music artists, and legends.
Backstage Pass
7:00 - 10:00 PM EST
Hosted by Tye Tribbett, Jonathan Slocumb, Sonya Blakey, & Angenella

Don't miss interviews with Tasha Cobbs, Hezekiah Walker, Ricky Dillard, VaShawn Mitchell, Jekalyn Carr, Jonathan McReynolds, Shirley Caesar, Erica Campbell, Lexi, Anthony Brown & group TherAPy, Donald Lawrence, and more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

GMF to host live stream of Stellar Awards Backstage Pass Weekend

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE STREAM ► Stellar Awards Weekend Backstage Pass

GMF has your backstage pass to the 29th Annual Stellar Awards! 

Starting Friday, January 17, you can watch interviews, rehearsals, and the Stellars' ancillary events--all right here at www.gospelmusicfever.com.

The grand gospel weekend continues on Saturday, January 18, with the Stellar Gospel & Radio Announcers Awards, the red carpet event hosted by Tye Tribbett, and the "Backstage Pass" (offstage interviews while the main show airs live on the UP television network). 

Here's the complete schedule for the live stream, released by the Stellar Awards and hosted by media affiliate, Gospel Music Fever Blog.  (Please note that the times listed on this blog are Eastern Standard). A few surprises are promised as well!  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Live Interviews and Rehearsals
1:30-3:30 PM EST (time subject to change)

29th Annual Stellars Pre-Show
7:00 - 10:00 PM EST
Hosted by Sonya Blakey & Angenella

Don't miss interviews with Earnest Pugh, Anita Wilson, Beverly Crawford, Kevin Vasser, J. Moss, JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, Chanel Haynes, Monica Lisa Stevenson, Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis, Kevin Lemon & Higher Calling, Livre, and more.
Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stellar Gospel & Radio Announcers Awards
10:00 AM - 2:30 PM EST
Hosted by  Sonya Blakey, Angenella, & Michael Davis

Red Carpet
5:00 - 6:30 PM  EST
Hosted by Tye Tribbett

Get up-close and personal with all the Stellar Awards nominees, gospel music artists, and legends.
Backstage Pass
7:00 - 10:00 PM EST
Hosted by Tye Tribbett, Jonathan Slocumb, Sonya Blakey, & Angenella

Don't miss interviews with Tasha Cobbs, Hezekiah Walker, Ricky Dillard, VaShawn Mitchell, Jekalyn Carr, Jonathan McReynolds, Shirley Caesar, Erica Campbell, Lexi, Anthony Brown & group TherAPy, Donald Lawrence, and more.

The Stellar Awards will be held at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, January 18, 2014. The show will air on the UP television network live on January 18, and in broadcast syndication on 150 stations in over 125 markets around the country from January 18 through March 2, 2014.  Rickey Smiley and Sherri Shepherd will host.

An Interview with Ruth La’Ontra

By Shaundria Williams
Special Contributor

Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to speak with North Carolina’s own Ruth La’Ontra (pronounced Lah’Ontrah).   She’s the daughter of radio pioneer Bishop Arvetra Jones—who’s also the president of the North Carolina Gospel Announcers Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America—and Mrs. Ruth Jones.  Her grandfather, the late Apostle Arvetra Jones, Sr., was a recording artist as well; so it seems accurate to say that music is in her blood.

Our conversation was like talking to a cousin on the porch in springtime as the sun sets just beyond the trees.  La’Ontra’s got such a sweet spirit and a playful personality; but don't let the giggles fool you.  This young lady is serious about her Kingdom Assignment!

Her debut album, So Good boasts four self-written songs, including the title track: "Speechless,” “I’m In Love With This Man,” and “I Believe.”  Of her songwriting process, La’Ontra explains, “I try to keep the song in a storyline, in order to express what I am going through.”

“Speechless,” for instance, is the first track on the project, and it is an energetic song of worship fit to minister at any sports half-time show.

QUICK SOAP BOX:  Before the Pharisee in you comes out because of her vernacular, yes, some of the lyrics in the chorus are “my Father, my best friend, my boo.”  To that I say, “AWESOME!”  Really, it is, because if you understand what it truly means to be “booed-up” and if God has ever come through for you in a very real way, you get it.  To those who still don’t get it I’ll just encourage you to get booed-up with Jesus, ask Him to be the true LOVER of your soul, then you’ll sing along with Sis. La’Ontra.

The entire So Good project is hip and young with nuances of The Clark Sisters, Kim Burrell, BeyoncĂ©, Bilal and Ledisi.  La’Ontra’s producer Bubby Fann translated the images in La’Ontra’s head into hot beats, smooth transitions and mellow lulls.  He also wrote her first single “Count it All Joy,” which has swiftly made its way up the charts.  Her brother, Arvetra Dominic “Dom” Jones, and sister, Princess Jones added “I’ll Trust You” and “I Got This” to this dynamic project.  If you are nervous about doing something that God has placed in your heart, put that last one I mentioned on "repeat" and get it done.  The full collection of songs is sure to encourage and uplift you.

Beyond her music, La’Ontra reveals that she wants to develop programs for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence.  While she doesn’t have a personal history with domestic violence, she has seen the effects and wants to provide an avenue for women to express their feelings and leave with hope.  Maybe in some way, this actually works in tandem with her desire “to go outside of the four walls of the church and minister to the mainstream while maintaining gospel roots and go wherever God’s footsteps lead.”  I am positive that wherever God leads the young twenty-something songstress, it will be so good.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"So Good" - Ruth La'Ontra

"So Good"
Ruth La'Ontra
From the CD, So Good (2013)
Tyscot Records

By Shaundria Williams
Special Contributor 

Music lovers have all kinds of music.  Music for exercising, music for long drives, music for cleaning the house, music for getting ready for church--we create the soundtrack of our lives.  That being said, Ruth La'Ontra's debut project, So Good, is SO GOOD!  Cousin Ruth (in my Kirk Franklin voice) has sung me to work for a couple of months now.  Although her entire project is phenomenal, one song has been on repeat: the title track, “So Good.”

This neo-quartetish ballad reminds me of all-night “sangings” way back over in the woods.  You know the ones that started at three in the afternoon and didn’t end until ten or twelve at night?  In this scenario, Ruth La’Ontra’s group would sing after the offering.  And if they managed to complete their selections without singing “it,” you’d be sure to see members of the congregation with their index fingers up motioning for an usher, then handing over a folded slip of paper and whispering, “Give this to Ruth so she can sing ‘So Good.’” 

It starts out as a gentle conversation between God and His beloved child.  God simply asks her, “How does it feel…” followed by several illustrations of His loving kindness.  She simply replies, “It feels good, good to me.”  Somewhere around three minutes (2:53 to be exact), Sis. Ruth thinks about that “thang” and decides to tell God JUST how good He is to her.  As she testifies, her background vocalists support her with a simple refrain: “So good.”  The harmonies along with the horns are sure to spur a good “stank face.”  As for Sis. Ruth, I believe she’s got a little preach in her.  

Check in tomorrow to read Shaundria's interview with La'Ontra.

Upcoming Event: Want to see Ruth La’Ontra in person?  She will minister in song on February 1, 2014, at Aberdeen Elementary School at 7:00 PM (doors open at 5:30 PM).  For more information, find her on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also follow her on SocialCam, Instagram, and YouTube.