Jonathan McReynolds was the top winner at the 34th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, taking home eight trophies during a ceremony that included a posthumous tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
Thanks to his album Make Room, Chicago gospel artist McReynolds was crowned artist of the year Friday night (March 29) and his song Not Lucky was named the song of the year. He also took home honours for best contemporary male vocalist, contemporary CD, and producer of the year.
Jekalyn Carr was named female vocalist of the year and the Walls Group won the award for duo/chorus group of the year. The best new artist trophy went to Jabari Johnson.
The tribute to Franklin was performed by Kelly Price, Regina Belle, and Erica Campbell. Members of Franklin’s family (Brenda Corbett, Jordan Franklin and Kecalf Franklin) were presented with the inaugural Aretha Franklin ICON Award.
Gospel legend Delores Washington Green of the Caravans was given the Legend Award. And James Robinson Jr. (Malaco Gospel), Jackie Patillo (Gospel Music Association) and Phil Thornton (RCA Inspiration) were inducted into the Stellar Honors Hall of Fame.
This year’s line-up of performances included an energetic opening number by Hezekiah Walker, Kirk Franklin stirring the audience to their feet performing new music and a rousing medley by Phil Thompson, Kelontae Gavin and Maranda Curtis. Other performers included Brian Courtney Wilson, Koryn Hawthorne, Todd Dulaney, Charles Jenkins, Jekalyn Carr and emerging new artists Jabari Johnson, Will McMillian and more.
Kirk Franklin returned to host the live taping of the awards show at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena. The Stellar Awards will be telecast on BET later this month.