This past Saturday night, the annual salute to Gospel music, The Stellar Awards was held at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. Stand-up comedians turned television hosts, Sherri Shepherd (The View) and syndicated radio personality Rickey Smiley (Dish Nation), co-hosted the 29th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards.
The Stellar Awards is known as the premier, one of a kind award show and Gospel event that recognizes and honors African American Gospel artists, writers and industry professionals for the from all around the world. The Stellar Awards is the first Gospel Music Awards show in the U.S., honoring Gospel Music Artists, writers, and industry professionals for their contributions to the Gospel Music Industry
This year, along with showcasing many of the top Gospel artists and television and film stars in the world, the Stellar Awards honored Houston’s own Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee as the 2014 Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award recipient.
Thomas Dorsey was known as “the father of Black Gospel music” and in 2002, the Library of Congress honored his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry. His best known composition, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Another composition, “Peace in the Valley”, was a hit and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including the Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker and mainstream popular White artists such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
In 2008, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston in the 18th Congressional District of Texas, introduced the historic resolution, H.J. Res. 90, after meeting in her U.S. Capital office with Charley Humbard, CEO of Uplift TV, Gospel Music Advocate Carl Davis and Entertainment Executive Alvin Williams. The group met to discuss the rich contributions of Gospel music to this country and to provide the necessary support and leadership to have September designated as ‘Gospel Music Heritage Month’ across the nation. With the support of Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), the bipartisan passage of the bill helped to usher in a new national focus on honoring Gospel music for its valuable and longstanding contributions to the culture of the United States.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee then led the effort to create the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation that celebrates Gospel music annually at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C. and in the 18th Congressional District in Texas.
As a result of her efforts, Gospel icons and trailblazers such as Dr. Bobby Jones (Bobby Jones Gospel); Cathy Hughes (Radio One); Charley Humbard (Uplift TV); Don Jackson (Stellar Awards); Congressman John Lewis, who was honored as a salute to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington; and Gospel icon Richard Smallwood, along with Bill Hearn of Capital Music Group for their major contributions to the legacy of Gospel music.