RECAP: BMI Gospel Trailblazer's Salute (2008)
Nashville's Rocketown venue was filled to capacity on January 11th, for the ninth annual BMI Gospel Trailblazers Salute (see the performing rights group's website).
Three major names in Gospel were honoured as Gospel Trailblazers, with a raft of artists present to salute and pay tribute: BMI-affiliated artists and songwriters Joe Ligon of The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Pastor Marvin L. Winans.
Hosted by BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton, together with Dorinda Clark Cole, the invitation-only event was attended by artists, media and music executives alike.
With a tight band (Stanley Brown, Marvin McQuitty, Kevin Stancil, Shawn Carrington) under the direction of Joe Wilson, and Donald Lawrence as music director (and leading vocalists Blanche McAllistor, San Franklin Stancil, Sheri Jones Moffett, Lowell Pye, Ted Winn, Michael Young) making things happen, the luncheon featured some of Gospel's brightest talent.
BMI President & CEO Del Bryant began by presenting an award to veteran songwriter Percy Bady for writing, "Um Good", recorded by Smokie Norful on his Life Changing release, and one of the most popular songs of 2007.
Keith 'Wonderboy' Johnson gave tribute to Joe Ligon and The Mighty Clouds of Joy, singing "I Came To Jesus" and telling some humorous anecdotes. Rance Allen then came up to deliver "I've Been in the Storm Too Long", and then welcomed Ligon and the Clouds to the stage for an impromptu duet of the smash hit.
Vanessa Bell Armstrong was honored next, with performances and accolades delivered by J. Moss ("Look Beyond My Faults"), Kelly Price ("Nobody But Jesus") and Dave Hollister ("Peace Be Still"). Hollister recounted how as a young teenager he had sung backup for Vanessa for several years.
The event concluded with a salute to Pastor Marvin L. Winans. With the crowd to their feet, Anthony Hamilton sang "Question Is", accompanied on guitar by Tommy Simms. Fred Hammond told some captivating stories of his early days with the Winans (when he played bass for the group), and then delivered "Long Time Coming", before Lowell Pye of Men of Standard took the mic for his version of "Trust In God". Son Marvin "Coconut" Winans Jr. sang "Millions" before being joined on stage by Pye for "Restoration". Pastor Winans graciously received the honor, and then every artist in the room was invited on stage for an encore of "Restoration".
Don't miss all the photos from this tremendous event, courtesy of BMI (photo credit: Arnold Turner).
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