Kirk Franklin sweeps with 6 Stellar Awards
Free Press staff rep | 8/27/2020, 6 p.m.
Kirk Franklin served as a co-host and also walked off with the most awards at the virtual 35th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards.
One of the biggest names in gospel, the popular 50-year-old singer-songwriter, choir director and music producer added six more Stellar Awards to his collection during the event broadcast Sunday evening on BET.
Mr. Franklin joined Jonathan McReynolds and Koryn Hawthorne in hosting the two-hour ceremony whose highlights included a tribute to late civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
CeCe Winans performed “Bridge over Troubled Water” in his honor.
The awards show also paid homage to first responder heroes serving on the front lines during the pandemic, with a video showing Stellar Award lapel pins being presented to some first responders in Dallas, Nashville and Chicago engaged in the battle against the coronavirus.
For Mr. Franklin, his “Long, Live, Love” album enabled him to capture his latest statuettes for best male vocalist, best album, best producer, best contemporary male vocalist and best contemporary album.
Mr. Franklin also collected the music video of the year award for “Love Theory.”
Tasha Cobbs Leonard won the top award as best artist. She also took home the award for contemporary female vocalist of the year for her album “Heart. Passion. Pursuit.”
Donald Lawrence won four Stellar Awards, with his “Deliver Me (This is My Exodus)” named song of the year.
The best new artist award went to Pastor Mike Jr., who also claimed top honors for best rap/hip-hop gospel album of the year.
The Walls Group won two awards, duo group of the year and contemporary duo group of the year, for their album “Friend in Me.”
Kurt Carr received two Stellar Awards for his “Bless Somebody Else” project. The awards were for traditional duo, chorus or group and for recorded music packaging.
Other winners included J.J. Hairston for praise and worship album of the year; Ben Tankard for instrumental album of the year; Gospel Kids for youth project of the year; Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson for quartet of the year and Greenleaf: Season 3 for special event album of the year.
Several established performers were featured during the event, including Tamela Mann, Marvin Sapp, James Fortune, Travis Greene, Tye Tribbett, Anthony Brown and Zacardi Cortez.
The show also showcased such emerging artists as Group Fire, Keyla Richardson, Melvin Crispell III and Titus Showers.
The Stellar Awards date to 1970 and are the creation of Chicago music producer Don Jackson. The first awards show was held in 1984.
The Stellar Awards rival the Nashville-based Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards, which also started in 1970, and will be presented Friday, Oct. 30.