Written by Yolanda Baruch
The esteemed Stellar Gospel Music Awards returned to Music City six years after leaving for Las Vegas. The show took place at Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. As an annual televised event, the music award celebrates its 36th year revering top-tier gospel artists and their music. Executive Producer, Don Jackson, promises that audiences who love inspiration sounds will be awe-struck by the numerous soul-stirring performances.
The Stellar Gospel Music Awards ceremony, held on July 10th, will air Sunday, August 1st, on BET, BET Her, and BET Gospel at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The show will also air on August 2nd on BET International.
During the event's taping, social media lit up and generated more than two million impressions with posts that featured performances, winners, and other notable moments. Since last year's pandemic lockdowns, the audiences and performers were pleased to return to an in-person ceremony after the virtual Stellar Awards. COVID-19 safety protocols were enacted as part of the in-person event.
Gospel legend Tye Tribbett and multiple Stellar Award winner, Jekalyn Carr will host the long-awaited event that boasts a showcase of various gospel icons, industry standard-bearers, and an unstoppable force of young, contemporary artists who spread the good news in new ways.
The annual celebration underscores the power of artists who boldly proclaim a Christ-centered identity, represent the unique sounds of their region, and display the rich diversity filling gospel music with a healing and uplifting energy that reaches the masses.
Dubbed as "The Greatest Night in Gospel Music," a new generation of emerging gospel artists serves as a testament to the genre's staying power. Among them, Pastor Mike Jr., nominated for multiple Stellar Awards this year, performed "Big," and host Jekalyn Carr belted her songs, "Change Your Story" and "Jehovah Jireh." Maverick City Music treated audiences to the harmonious sound of "Jireh," and various emerging artists such as Jokia, Terrian, and Nia Allen were spotlighted as up-and-coming gospel talent. Tamela Mann introduced her newest single, "Help Me," which explores the theme of mental health.
"It talks about help, and a lot of us need some help nowadays with all that we're going through. The song speaks to the heart; even on the video we [did] talks about mental health, as well we know where our help comes from, it comes from God, and we're hoping that people will grab those messages out of this song," says Mann.
Yolanda Adams, Kierra Sheard, and Avery*Sunshine joined this year's list of dynamic performers. They delivered a powerful tribute to Lady Tramaine Hawkins, who was honored with the Aretha Franklin Icon Award presented by Toyota. The trio performed a medley, including widely-known Hawkins' songs such as "Holy One," "Changed," and "Going Up Yonder."
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – JULY 10: Yolanda Adams (right) and daughter Taylor Ayanna Crawford attend the 36th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on July 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) Source: Getty
The Clark Sisters, who received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award presented by AT&T, also performed rousing renditions of "Is My Living in Vain," "Blessed & Highly Favored," "Your Brought the Sunshine," and "His Love." The legendary group received three nominations for this year's Stellar Awards.
Viewers worldwide can find out who won across all categories and witness dynamic performances from gospel superstars like Jonathan McReynolds, Mali Music, Kierra Sheard, Sheléa, Christina Bell, J.J. Hairston, Maverick City Music, Pastor Mike Jr., Tamela Mann, Jason Clayborn, Hezekiah Walker, CeCe Winans and hosts, Tribbett and Carr.
The Stellar Awards recognizes the year's best performances in the genre and honors gospel music icons and those who are instrumental in advocating for the gospel industry. Top nominees for this year's ceremony include former Stellar Awards host Jonathan McReynolds, who received eight nominations this year. Anthony Brown and group therAPy, Kierra Sheard, Maverick City Music, and Pastor Mike Jr. each received seven nominations, including a nod each for Artist of the Year. Other celebrated artists receiving multiple Stellar nominations include Tasha Cobb Leonard, The Clark Sisters, Rev. Luther Barnes, the Restorations Worship Center Choir, the Chicago Mass Choir, and host Jekalyn Carr.