BMI's 12th Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards Luncheon (2011)

The phrase "much anticipated" is frequently misapplied and overused. In the case of this year's Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards Luncheon, it is wholly appropriate.

Hosted and organized by the performing rights organization, BMI, executives Del Bryant, Catherine Brewton and Wardell Malloy chose to honor both Commissioned and Shirley Caesar. Industry, artists and execs alike gathered on January 14th, 2011 in Nashville see, hear and celebrate gospel's finest and most revered.

Photos A great part of the excitement is always to see who is chosen to tribute the honorees. In the case of Shirley Caesar, Arnetta Murrill Crooms began with an apt impression of the sermon-story, "Hold My Mule". Lucinda Moore turned up the heat quite a bit with "Armor of God" and things just about boiled over with a call and response reprise with segment host Donnie McClurkin.

Beverly Crawford brought on a full on boil with The Caravan's "Sweeping Through the City", reminding us in an uncanny way of the infectious energy that pours from Pastor Shirley Caesar. The question of what could possibly come behind Crawford was answered when new pastor, Kim Burrell took the stage. She told her own story and sang - or some unique mix of the two, rendering "No Charge" and "Jesus, I Love Calling Your Name". Vocal powerhouse Ledisi closed out the segment with "You're Next In Line for a Miracle".

Kim Burrell then rejoined us as host for the Commissioned segment of the tribute, which was ignited by Dawkins and Dawkins and their rendition of the classic "Ordinary". It was the beginning of a thread of tributes from people who were more than just fans or followers of the legendary group.

Photo Gallery
Photos See the numerous photos from BMI Gospel Trailblazer's Luncheon. Check out the full gallery (photo credits: Arnold Turner).

Photo Gallery of BMI's 12th Annual Gospel Trailblazers Luncheon

Men of Standard got together to sing "Running Back to You". Powerhouse Lowell Pye closed out with a worship medley that ALMOST shut down the house.

Because Commissioned changed personnel so much throughout the years, some members of the group were actually chosen to pay tribute. Former stand-in member Parkes Stewart joined Deitrick Haddon for a very sweet version of "Tis So Sweet". And former member Marvin Sapp connected with The Soul Seekers to sing the high energy "King of Glory". In between were The Clark Sisters who pulled together "I'm Going On".

Almost all of the members through the years (everyone except Marcus Cole), finally joined together on stage to proclaim "Victory" together —for the first time in 21 years!

The all star band led by Joe "Flip" Wilson and singers collected by Donald Lawrence held down the supporting cast.

Also honored for the BMI's Most Performed Gospel Song of the Year were BeBe & CeCe Winans, for their single "Close to You". Written by BeBe Winans and published by Music of Everhits, the song also earned the 2010 Dove Award for Urban Recorded Song of the Year. BeBe & CeCe Winans celebrated the honor with a blazing performance of the song.

BMI's 12th Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards are certainly a highlight of Stellar Award weekend. If you missed it, you can catch it on GMC February 14th at 7PM EST.

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— reviewed by Melanie Clark

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