Central City Productions announced that comedian, syndicated radio and TV personality Rickey Smiley (Dish Nation, Rickey Smiley For Real) and actress and TV personality Sherri Shepherd (Ride Along 2, The View) will return as co-hosts of the 31st Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, having hosted together in 2014. Hailed as the “biggest night in gospel music,” this year’s stellar awards will be held at the Las Vegas Orleans Arena on Saturday, February 20, 2016. The telecast will premiere on TV One during the week of March 6, as well as in broadcast syndication on 150 stations in over 125 markets around the country from March 12 – April 10.
The 2016 stellar awards nominees in 28 categories were revealed today with gospel heavyweight Anthony Brown, a contender for both Male Vocalist of the Year and Producer of the Year, topping the list with ten nominations. The prolific songwriter and his bandmates Group therAPy are also nominated for Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Group/Duo of the Year, CD of the Year, Choir of the Year, Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, and Recorded Music Packaging of the Year.
Also returning to the show with a slate of nominations this year, chart-topping act Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago receives eight nods, the second highest number overall. Jenkins is nominated for Producer of the Year and Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, and his critically acclaimed group is competing for Song of the Year, CD of the Year, Choir of the Year, Traditional CD of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Traditional Choir of the Year.
With eight and six nominations respectively, Erica Campbell and Tasha Cobbs demonstrate the powerful impact of women in gospel music, recognized for Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, CD of the Year, Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year. Campbell also receives a nod for Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year while Cobb garners one for Praise and Worship CD of the Year.
Richard Smallwood, nominated for Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, and his group Vision are in contention for Traditional Choir of the Year, Special Event CD of the Year and Praise and Worship CD of the Year. Other artists earning multiple nominations include Israel & New Breed, Jonathan McReynolds, Tina Campbell, The Rance Allen Group, newcomer Casey J and living legend Dorinda Clark Cole.
“I am pleased that God has blessed us with celebrating 31 years as the most respected awards brand in gospel music and in the faith-based community,” says Don Jackson, founder and executive producer of the stellar awards. “We will honor those who have contributed to the growth and success of gospel music as a genre, as well as demonstrate why this art form remains critical to the legacy of American music.”
In addition to celebrating the year’s best album releases, awards will be presented for the best gospel radio stations for urban audiences nationwide. Terrestrial and online radio programs that broadcast gospel music will be highlighted, along with the top Gospel Announcer of the Year. Nominees for Announcer of the Year are Carmina Barnett from KHVN/Dallas, Tracy Bethea Bodie from WHAL/Memphis, Lee Michaels from WCAO/Baltimore, and Billy St. James from KPZK/Little Rock.
The stellar awards Founder Don Jackson will bestow special honors upon superstar Yolanda Adams and Faith-based comedian Jonathan Slocumb, while O’landa Draper will receive the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ambassador Bobby Jones Legends Award will be presented to Joe Ligon.
A signature of the stellar awards are the rousing, spirit-filled performances and this year is no exception — confirmed performers include Kirk Franklin, Anthony Brown & Group therAPy, Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago, Tasha Cobbs, Travis Greene and Best New Artist nominee Casey J. Additional performers and presenters will also be announced.