Aside from the actual taping of the Stellar Awards, folks eagerly anticipate the BMI Trailblazers Awards each year. In fact, people often say that the BMI event features greater and more memorable performances than the Stellar Awards taping, though, this year… that MIGHT not be the case… I’m gonna call it a TIE!
In any case, BMI annually honors folks in gospel who’ve made significant contributions to the genre. This year, Donnie McClurkin and Andraé Crouch were honored. The celebration consists of a great lunch and some incredible tribute performances. It went a lil’ something like this…
Before the honoring went down, Dorinda Clark-Cole came to the stage to perform her hit single “Take It Back,” which received a BMI Song Of The Year award (songwriter, Derrick Starks). You already know that Dorinda brings it like none other and I was on my feet before I could even finish my salad.
Following that, we got a surprise performance from Jessica Reedy, who sang “God Has Smiled On Me” like a seasoned professional. She really holds her own in this game and it’s great to see how welcoming the industry is of her.
The vocal production for the afternoon came from the incomparable Donald Lawrence and DeWayne Woods. In the background– Tobi Darks, Dawn Jordan, San Franklin, Latrice Pace, Blanche McAllister and Anita Wilson. YES! The band– Joe Wilson on keys, Stanley Brown on organ, Kevin Stancil on bass, Jonathan DuBose on guitar, Marvin McQuitty on drums and Lloyd Barry on horns. GOOD LORD!
The formal program began with the tribute performances to Donnie McClurkin, hosted by Byron Cage. The background vocalists did a snippet of “That’s What I Believe” before Latice Crawford came to deliver her rendition of “I Call You Faithful.” After that, Micah Stampley sang his heart out on “Speak To My Heart.” McClurkin’s best friend and pastor, Marvin Winans, set the room ablaze with his performance of “Stand” (for which he also brought up BeBe Winans) before Yolanda Adams came to the stage to perform “We Fall Down.”
The McClurkin tribute performances were great, but I wish they had done some more songs for him– they could’ve dug a little deeper into the New York Restoration Choir days, pulled some more tracks from the Live In London album, or even focused a little more on songs that he’s written for other artists (like, “This Is The Gospel Of Jesus Christ” for Hezekiah Walker or “It Is To You” by Byron Cage). Still, awesome job and I’m glad he was honored for his great contributions to the game.
After McClurkin accepted his award, it was on to the Andraé Crouch tribute, which was hosted by Yolanda Adams. First, Donald Lawrence led the singers in a mindblowing medley of classic Crouch tunes including “Right Now” (led by Blanche McAllister), “Quiet Time,” “Soon And Very Soon”… it was just incredible.
Up next was the one and only Táta Vega, a longtime friend of, and singer with, Andraé Crouch. She did an intro of “Speak Lord,” (which she recorded for The Color Purple decades ago) before transitioning into a soul-stirring performance of “Oh It Is Jesus.” It was at THAT moment that the atmosphere of the entire room shifted from tribute to worship, and the event wasn’t the same again.
After that, Yolanda Adams couldn’t even regain her composure to introduce the next performance– BeBe & CeCe Winans singing “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” They just came on stage and took us to new heights, followed by Mary Mary’s staggering performance of “We Are Not Ashamed.”
Finally, Marvin Winans returned to the stage and shared some great stories about how instrumental Crouch was to the career of The Winans, even down to changing their stage name from “The Testimonial Singers” to simply, “The Winans” (thank God!). He wrapped his segment with a performance of “Jesus Is Lord,” for which he simply had to call the legendary Karen Clark Sheard to the stage!
Andraé Crouch accepted his award and shared how he had been recently diagnosed with diabetes. His doctors wanted to amputate his toe after discovering a large hole in it, but he shared that he had been miraculously healed! He asks for continued prayer from the industry… great speech.
Finally, Marvin Winans led an impromptu segment of EVERYONE singing some classic Crouch songs that weren’t even on the program. He called up Shirley Caesar, J Moss, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin… there are no words!
That’s that, essentially. Dunno how much of it will make the edited televised program, but look for it on February 21st on Gospel Music Channel. I’ll remind you as the time comes closer!
Soooo… whatd’ya think?!