17th Annual Stellar Awards Weekend Notebook (2002)
We dropped information pulled from various sources over the course of the 17th Annual Stellar Awards weekend in Atlanta. Information is presented chronologically:
Wednesday, January 9th 2002
- Dottie Peoples’ recorded her next live project for AIR Gospel on Wednesday evening at Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Church in Atlanta.
Thursday, January 10th, 2002
- Crowds started arriving in town for the awards weekend. The Atlanta Sheraton is the hub of much of the activity. In addition to several record executives, artists such as Pam and Dodi and Natalie Wilson were spotted checking in.
- The Gospel Announcer’s Award Ceremony Honor Showcase and Reception at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta was a huge draw during the evening. Notable announcers were in the house (including Walt “Baby” Love), and were received by Central City Productions exec. Don Jackson. Artists such as Twinkie Clark and Maurette Brown-Clark were also in attendance. The 7 PM event was sponsored by several labels; numerous artists performed. Highlights included the standing ovation for the University of Michigan-Flint Gospel Choir (Advance Records). Also singing were new artist Alicia Brown (World Wide Gospel) as well as Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson, Greg O’quin and Evelyn Turrentine-Agee (all from World Wide Gospel). Surprise guest Tonya Blount sang from her upcoming Gospel project.
- Radio networks are setting up for live broadcast, including ABC's Rejoice Musical Soulfood with Willie Mae McIver. Youthful Praise directors J.J. Hairston and Shawn Brown were featured in interview.
- Neo-soul Gospel specialist Montrel Darrett made his presence known and was prominently handing out snippet cassettes from his upcoming project.
Friday, January 11th, 2002
- The Pre-Nominee Reception was held in the evening, in honour of nominees for the Awards. Hosts were Dr. Bobby Jones and comedian Ricky Smiley as well as Lamar Campbell.
Performers were Virtue with renditions of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", "Till You Believe" and "He's Been Good". (It was also Ebony Trotter's birthday). EMI Gospel's new artist, singer-songwriter Smokie Norful, delivered two songs to a roaring ovation. Ultimate Records group Blessed also sang.
Several Stellar Awards winners were announced, with winners including Donnie McClurkin, Bishop T.D. Jakes and the Potter's House Choir, Yolanda Adams, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs, John P. Kee and the New Life Community Choir, Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers, Mary Mary and Kirk Franklin.
- Famous faces spotted in the crowds included Vickie Winans, Clifton Davis, Cookie Johnson, Destiny's Child, Richard Smallwood and Kurt Carr.
- Youthful Praise ministered at the Church of Greater Works alongside Dirk Chaney and the Chosen Aggregation, to a packed congregation late on Friday night. Minister Kirvy Brown led on a new song written by YP's Shawn Brown and JJ Hairston to thunderous applause.
- The Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy Luncheon was held at the Sheraton Atlanta, again with overflow seating. The event was sponsored by music publishing organization ASCAP, as well as Sister 2 Sister Magazine. Special performances were slated from Pam and Dodi (MCA), Generation J, Two-Edge (both from Arrow Records), as well Shirley Murdock (Dexterity Sounds/EMI Gospel), Patrick Love and his choir, and also KRS ONE. Vickie Winans got up to sing "Shook" with son Marvin Winans Jr..
- Soundchecks began at the Atlanta Civic Center in preparation for the television taping Saturday night. Slated artists began arriving, including Youthful Praise who will be backing up Shirley Caesar and Michelle Williams on the song "Steal Away".
- More artists, too numerous to mention, began pouring into downtown Atlanta in preparation of the celebrations.
- Music publishing organization BMI presented their third annual "Trailblazers of Gospel Music" luncheon at 103 West. Hosted by BMI’s Catherine Brewton, each honoree received a Trailblazer Award plaque in recognition of achievement in Gospel. BMI songwriter/artists Take 6, Kurt Carr, Doug and Melvin Williams, Tramaine Hawkins and also Teresa Hairston were honored. Rev. James Cleveland received an award posthumously, with Donnie McClurkin presenting a tribute in song. Performing at the luncheon were Fred Hammond & RFC, Men of Standard, LaShun Pace, Darwin Hobbs, Richard Smallwood and Doc McKenzie.
Saturday, January 12th, 2002
- Winners were announced, check them here.
The live-to-tape 2-hour Awards Ceremony at the Atlanta Civic Center featured Destiny's Child singing their "Gospel Medley". As the song finished, Michelle Williams slowly walked to join Shirley Caesar coming from behind stage to sing together in duet on "Steal Away", as Youthful Praise entered from the wings to offer vocal support.
Also performing was Commissioned Reunion, Kirk Franklin, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs, CeCe Winans and Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers.
The James Cleveland Award was presented to Albertina Walker for her work in Gospel music over the decades.
- Post-Awards Reception after the taping was sponsored jointly by Central City Productions, Gospo Centric, Verity Records and The Dream Network. Commissioned Reunion and Kirk Franklin headlined the black tie event. Commissioned sang several songs (The City, King of Glory) and a medley, with the crowd on their feet the entire set. Backing them were RFC with MOHORNS.
New artist Ray Bady sang, as did Joann Rosario with two songs from her upcoming project. The event continued into the very wee hours of the morning (Kirk didn't get on stage till after 3 AM!). Buffet finger food kept people going.
Sunday, January 13th, 2002
- The Stellars are over, but the events keep going on.
Youthful Praise sang at New Beginnings Church (pastor Bishop James Morton) in early afternoon.
New Birth's Minister of Music Kevin Bond hosted a listening party for Kirk Franklin's new album on Sunday evening. Multi-Stellar winner Kurt Carr taped a segment for TBN in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.
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