April 2015: Considered to be the greatest night in Gospel music, the 30th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas turned “Sin City” into “Salvation City.” Celebrating 30 years, the Stellar Awards was co-hosted with comedic flare by David Mann (“Mann & Wife), Tamela Mann (“Sparkle”) and Ricky Smiley (“Dish Nation”).
The Stellar Awards recognizes the year’s best performances in the genre, honors Gospel music icons and acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals instrumental in advocating for the industry.
Among the awardees was Al “The Bishop” Hobbs, who posthumously received the Chevrolet Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legend Award for his career accomplishments on Capitol Hill.
The big surprise of the evening came at the top of the show, when opening act Michelle Williams was joined by former bandmates Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland in a show-stopping reunion that brought the audience to its feet singing her song, “Say Yes,” a winner for “Best Music Video of the Year.”
Ten-time nominee Erica Campbell took top honors, winning six awards including Artist of the Year, The Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year. She acknowledged her sister, the other half of award-winning duo Mary Mary in her heartfelt remarks.
Ricky Dillard and New G followed Campbell with three wins, and Deitrick Haddon tied with The Walls Group for two trophies apiece. On stage after winning the Male Vocalist of the Year award, Haddon expressed gratitude for being recognized following a difficult time in his life.
The New Artist of the Year award was presented to Tasha Page-Lockhart, making her first Stellar Awards appearance, performing “Great Is Your Love” and “Faith Come Alive,” with fellow first-timers The Walls Group.
Other masterful performances included Smokie Norful, Jonathan McReynolds, Erica Campbell and Pastor Beverly Crawford who all delivered passionate hand-clapping and foot-stomping presentations to the delight of the filled-to-capacity crowd. The Stellar Awards signature is its powerful collaborations, and this year was no exception with Rance Allen Group, Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers, as well as Uncle Reece, Willie Moore, Jr. and Canton Jones teaming up to deliver amazing musical numbers.
Bishop Paul Morton received the Allstate James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments and was honored in song by Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers with Zarcadi & Crystal singing a medley of “I’m Still Standing”.