RCA Inspiration celebrated a powerful night of faith and music at the 35th Annual Stellar Awards, which aired on BET on August 23rd. Produced as a virtual special due to the global health pandemic and also paying tribute to first responders, the show was co-hosted by Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul/RCA), RCA Inspiration’s Koryn Hawthorne, and Jonathan McReynolds, with further airings in broadcast syndication to run nationally between August 29th – September 27th. The Stellar Awards are the biggest night in Gospel, and RCA Inspiration garnered 16 awards this year, with the Stellar Awards announcing wins for Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence, Le’Andria Johnson, and Kurt Carr’s releases. The night also featured performances from Hawthorne, Marvin Sapp, Travis Greene with DOE, Kierra Sheard with J.J. Hairston, Tauren Wells (Provident Label Group/RCA Inspiration), plus Melvin Crispell, III on the emerging artists stage.
Sweeping half the awards with wins in 14 of the 28 Stellar Awards categories, among the night’s wins included the major categories of Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Choir of the Year, and Producer of the Year. Co-host Kirk Franklin and his latest chart-topping album garnered eight awards in six categories, winning for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year for LONG LIVE LOVE (Fo Yo Soul/RCA), Producer of the Year (with Franklin, and RCA Inspiration’s Phil Thornton and Ronald Hill each getting awards as the album’s co-producers), Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year for LONG LIVE LOVE, and Music Video of the Year for his hit single “Love Theory” (Dir: Matt DeLisi).
Donald Lawrence garnered four awards, winning Song of the Year for his chart-topping hit “Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus)” with his co-songwriters, Choir of the Year and Contemporary Choir of the Year, for Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers, on the album GOSHEN, and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year for “Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus).” Le’Andria Johnson, featured on GOSHEN for “Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus),” won Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year and Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year. Kurt Carr won for Traditional Duo/Chorus Group of the Year for his latest acclaimed album together with The Kurt Carr Singers, BLESS SOMEBODY ELSE (Kurt Carr Gospel/RCA Inspiration), and the album won for Recorded Music Packaging of the Year (Art Dir: Derek Blanks).
With a mix of solo performances and duets, featured performances included co-host Koryn Hawthorne also taking the stage in a debut performance of her new single “Speak To Me,” Marvin Sapp delivering a performance of his single “Thank You For It All,” a duet of Travis Greene & DOE on “Good & Loved,” Kierra Sheard performing with J.J. Hairston on his song “Miracle Worker,” Tauren Wells debuting a solo performance of his new single produced by Donald Lawrence, “Trenches (Sunday A.M. Version),” and BET Sunday Best Season 9 winner Melvin Crispell, III, making his Stellar Awards performance debut on the emerging artists stage with his single “Wonderful Is Your Name.”
Phil Thornton, RCA Inspiration SVP and General Manager says: “Congratulations to Kirk, Donald, Le’Andria, and Kurt, on the Stellar Award wins this year and to the amazing work of the hosts, performers, and everyone who worked together on the Stellar Awards! Truly humbling to be recognized. Although the celebration was different this year, this was a momentous night to continue honoring Gospel music, the vital efforts of first responders, and the much-needed inspiration, strength and comfort that God brings to shine a path and carry us through difficult times.”