As much as the Atlanta Civic Center was in the forefront on January 9th. 1999 for the televising of the 14th Annual Stellar Awards, it was in the Ballroom of the Marriot Marquis in downtown Atlanta that the Stellar action took place the night before.
The occasion was the Stellar Nominee Reception, the place where all of the Stellar nominees gathered to celebrate gospel music, and to rejoice with the winners of those Stellar Awards that were not to be awarded the next evening in front of the TV cameras. With the newest gospel jazz ensemble Tekneek (from UAB Entertainment and Tyscot Records) serving up the background sounds, hundreds expectantly sat down to dinner.
The gospel action got into full swing after appetites were whetted, with Dr. Bobby Jones as M.C. As the nominees for each award were announced, and in the case of the untelevised award categories, the winners invited up on stage, various artists were encouraged to give the crowd an impromptu taste of their musical style.
All ears were eager as it be came apparent that Fred Hammond and John P. Kee were about to sing Fred's No Weapon in duet, and the ears were not disappointed. Others who threw tidbits of their flava to the crowd included Witness, Trin-i-tee 5:7, Beverly Crawford and LaShun Pace. Tonéx brought everyone to their feet as he emptied his heart into a well-known church hymn.
Then, when Marie Draper (mother of the late O'landa Draper) rose to accept the Stellar award for her son and his choir, The Associates (Traditional Choir of the Year), she delivered her strong and fiery testimony. It was at that point that the ballroom turned into a church…..a church that was soon to feature Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin together singing Donnie's Stand, complete with the entire audience spontaneously taking on the role of backing choir.
Surely, a night to remember.
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