RECAP: Taping of the 25th Annual Stellar Awards (2010)

A twenty-fifth anniversary is always special, so it's really no surprise that the 25th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, taped in Nashville on January 16th, 2010, has roundly been called the best ever.

Held at the legendary Grand Ole Opry House, the star-studded event was hosted by Vickie Winans, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin, accompanied by a bevy of presenters (including Yolanda Adams, The Clark Sisters, Kierra Sheard, J. Moss, Melinda Watts, Jonathan Slocumb and many, many others.)

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery of the Taping
of the Stellar Awards

In terms of award winners, Hezekiah Walker and Mary Mary each took home five. Walker was honored with the prestigious "Artist of the Year" award Mary Mary won in the "Song of the Year" for their hit, "God In Me". See the full list of winners and nominees.

Interspersed into the mix of awards and singing were special presentations made to Edwin Hawkins ("Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legend Award" accepted on his behalf by his sister-in-law Tramaine Hawkins), to Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC's ("The James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award") and "The Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award" to The Mississippi Mass Choir.

Highlights of the performances were multiple, with a clear emphasis on collaborations and throw-back hits. That combo was a winner, as it had the capacity crowd on their feet all evening long. It also helped that for the first time, the taping included a live band (tucked away high and tight at the back of the stage).

Key among the collaborations was the opening set, a show choir extravaganza that had both Ricky Dillard and New G and Hezekiah Walker and LFCC on stage at the same time. Dillard led his Chicago collective in a rousing cover of Edwin Hawkins' "You Don't Know (Whether I'm Right or Wrong)" before morphing in "More Abundantly", while Hez and crew took the stage with their mega hits "I Need You To Survive" and "Souled Out."

Legendary vocalists Tramaine Hawkins, Shirley Caesar and Dottie Peoples appeared on stage together for a female vocal collaboration of their music ("Changed", "On Time God", "Hold My Mule"), and Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp and Byron Cage joined together for a well-appreciated medley ("Never Would Have Made It," "The Presence Of The Lord," "Faithful To Believe," "Marvelous" —penned by Walter Hawkins— and "Stand").

Then there was the piano collaboration from Smokie Norful and Richard Smallwood (both in tuxedos). This one should have included Edwin Hawkins as well, but he was unable to attend the event.

Other show highlights include performances from BeBe and CeCe Winans performing their new hit single "Grace" and Crystal Aikin with "I Desire More," Vanessa Bell Armstrong with "Good News". James Fortune & FIYA sang their mega-hit, "I Trust You".

Kirk Franklin brought out a vocal crew that featured singers from The Family (including Dalon Collins and Tamela Mann), as well as from 1NC and God's Property, to deliver a medley of hits ("Silver & Gold," "Why We Sing," "Now Behold The Lamb"). WOW.

Israel Houghton performed his single "Every Prayer" via satellite from London with Mary Mary live on stage, and Donald Lawrence closed the show with a performance featuring the Verizon Wireless "How Sweet the Sound" winners, the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir, singing his hit, "Back II Eden".

In short, this was singing event for the ages, and is going down as one of the all-time best set of Gospel performances in recent memory. Check out all the winners, and be sure to check your local listings to relive Gospel's biggest night of the year.

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