Archive for December, 2011

Road To The Stellars- Industry Insider & Internet Radio Trailblazer Gerard Bonner

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Profile Feature: Gerard Bonner

Noted Work: Co-founder and Associate Editor of , hosted an entertainment news segment called “The Gospel Beat” in various markets, served as a radio personality at Rejoice 100.9 radio for 5 years, which also received Stellar Award nominations  during his tenure. Launched Bonnerfide Radio in September 2009, which is a 2010/2011 Stellar Award nominated Internet Radio station and airs 24 hours a day/7 days a per week. Winner of the 2o10 GMWA Crystal Mic Media Award,  2011 Central South Distribution REACH Anouncer’s Achievement Award, and honoree at the InSight For Initiative Inc. Genius For Men Honors. Bonner has hosted a myriad of industry events and is hosting the Bonnerfide Radio Anniversary Party for the 3rd year during this year’s Stellar Awards Weekend.

Gerard Bonner has been involved in the Gospel music industry for 15 years. He has been able to blaze a trail in the Internet Radio medium garnering over 1 million downloads of Bonnerfide Radio broadcasts and paving the way for independent artists to be placed on an equal playing field with major artists. He is one of five co-founders of and continues to build the legacy of the site, while also establishing Bonnerfide Radio as a mainstay in the world of radio. Bonnnerfide Radio provides a variety of music, life enrichment programming, and partners internationally bridging the gap between America and the UK with God inspired music. We caught with him to get his take on Stellar Awards weekend and what he thinks artists, and those breaking into the industry should know. Where are some places that you think new artists/musicians should be during Stellar Awards weekend?

Gerard Bonner: Stellar Awards weekend is a time when everyone that you need to connect with in the Gospel music industry are extremely accesible. It’s a great place to be for up and coming artists. The Urban Soul Cafe event will happen on Thursday and Saturday Nights. It’s a great place for independent and major artists to be.  On Friday night you have the Stellar Awards Pre-Show, which is a free event and a great place to meet publicists, managers, executives etc. They should definitely consider the Bonnerfide Radio Anniversary party. It’s a different style of showcasing great up and coming and established talent. Anyone you can think of in the industry may be there, and you also get to enjoy some of the industry’s hottest artists.  The Stellar Radio Awards is a great place to be because you have the who’s who in Gospel radio at that event. It’s a key place to meet and become more familiar with those that will be intergral in the success and visibility of an artist. What would you say executives are looking for when considering new artists?

Gerard Bonner: Presentation is extremely important. You have to make every opportunity to market yourself count.  Clear communication of your message and purpose are essential. They want to know that you are able to market yourself, are business savvy, and have a fan base. Do you have a following? Are there people around you that believe in your vision? I would suggest that new artists know their venue and audience when given a chance to showcase their talent. It’s important to know who you are trying to connect with and how to most effectively do it. Making sure that one’s recording material is physically and musically aesthetic is key. For example,  if a radio personality or executive is handed a demo that has no contact infomation, or looks poorly constructed, it is a direct reflection of the artist. Being nice and not overly aggresive is always a plus as well as being able to effectively network. It’s important to build relationships with people that are influential in the way that  you are looking to be. One’s personal interactions play a huge role in how they are received when considering their talent. Follow up is also very important. Know who you are talking to, what they do, and how they fit into yourin your network as an artist. Tell us what you enjoy about The Stellar Awards weekend and Nashville.

Gerard Bonner: Over the years I definitely have enjoyed The Stellar Awards taping. I particularly like the things that typically do not get to air. There are lots of great perfomances, tributes, and lots of folks coming together in a positive way. My favorite event during the Stellars weekend is the BMI Trailblazer’s of Gospel Music Awards. There are groundbreaking perfomances and some great moments happen during that event. It’s one of my all time favorite events. Some of the ancillary events that happen are also great. Last year there was a great concert featuring independent artists as well as some labels that host showcases of the artists on their roster. The Stellar Awards weekend provides an opportunity for the gospel music community to come together and celebrate one another. When it comes to food in Nashville I enjoy Monell’s and Pancake Pantry, you even run into folks there! Tell us about one of your best Stellar Awards memories.

Gerard Bonner: In 2009 Donald Lawrence won the “Artist of the Year” award and he decided to sow his award into the life of Tye Tribbett. Kirk Franklin followed up with some amazing words of encouragment and spoke about how people hold on to things and how they don’t let those things go. These events seemed to be the catalyst for catapulting Donald Lawrence in a different direction. After that we were introduced to the amazing project “The Law Of Confession” and other ventures that have distinguished him as such a successful example in this industry. Those events also seemed to shift the direction of the Gospel music industry. Then there was the spawning of social networking, which made room for new people and new ideas. We now see more new and an ecclectic array of artists being given a platform.

We hope you were able to grab some great points from our chat with Gerard Bonner. We have a few more profiles on the horizon as we gear up for the 2012 Stellar Awards on January 14th, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. Keep checking in on the site for more.


Merry Christmas!! Read About What Some of Our Favorite Gospel Artist Cherish About Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

We asked these artists about some of their fondest Christmas memories, some of their Christmas traditions, and who they listen to during the Christmas season. See what they had to say-


“There was a very special moment for me one particular  year in Georgia when I really felt the magic and the wrath of the holidays! I was very young and it was the year that my sisters and I were determined to make sure that we saw the gifts under the tree before we went to sleep. We took shifts for the look out! Lol! We had a little system and every hour one of us would walk down the hallway and check the tree! All of us had the same report, NOTHING!! It was so late, but we weren’t going to waiver. I dont know how or when we went to sleep, but mom and dad woke us up that morning.  We fell asleep on top of each other trying to hold out and were kind of in a pile. When we went downstairs there was an abundance of gifts! Everything was under that tree. I think I might’ve even seen Jesus under there Lol. That’s the year I received a bike called the “Air Assault”. I thought I was the man, you couldn’t tell me anything! I had no need to open anything else. I ran to the room and threw on some old wrinkled khakis, a sweater,  and my shoes were on the wrong feet. Momma was telling me to slow down but everything she was saying seemed like it was in slow motion. I had to ride this bike!We were in an apartment at the time and we lived up some stairs. I was scuffing those little walls up coming down the stairs. But I was ready! I finally got the bike on the street (after some needed assistance from Daddy) and I was off.  All the other kids were out with their stuff by then and I was ready to flex. The sunlight was gleaming off those silver rails, so clean. I was somebody and none of them could deny it.  I hit the hill and it was a really steep hill that we nicknamed “The Devils Backbone”.  I hit the hill flying!! The bike was so fast, it was amazing. Some of the other kids began to be in awe at how fast the bike was. I was proud, so I had to look back just to see their faces. I took my eyes off the road to look  at them and a truck was reversing out of it’s parking space. I did not see it in time and I hit the truck while going full speed. My front tire was wedged under the back of the truck, but my bike was still standing upright. When I came to there was an audience. The driver was terrified, and the crowd didn’t know what was about to happen. I hurt myself badly that day, it was embarrassing and a nightmare, but one of the best holiday moments EVER! These days on Christmas we have “The Wiz” on repeat the entire time. That’s our Holiday music. Peace and prosperity to you all!”


“My dearest holiday memory was last Christmas because it was my newest baby’s first Christmas.  We have has become even closer since she was born, and it made the holiday so special. My wife loves Christmas music. So “This Christmas”, “Merry Christmas To You”, “Handel’s Messiah”, are some of the songs/projects that play in my house during Christmas.”


“There’s an array of foods that are eaten with my family during the holiday season. Without a doubt my family’s signature white gravy, turkey, and for dessert peach cobbler. The Christmas playlist in my home consists of the legends like: Donnie Hathaway and the Jackson Five.”


“I love celebrating the holidays with my family. Some of the best memories are the ones I am forming with my husband and children.  Our tradition is that we set up the tree and all the presents in our music room.  The night before there is just a tree.  We stay up all night wrapping gifts and on Christmas morning there are presents everywhere. They are big and small, and every child has their own wrapping paper theme.  Just to see their excitement coming down the stairs and running into the room to look for their “gift display” every year is the best!  It keeps me grateful that God provides for us. Call me an old softy, but I love the classics.  It isn’t Christmas until I have heard Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song”.”


I enjoy listening to old classics like Url Ides and Nat King Cole during the Christmas season. I also listen to Kirk Franklin’s Christmas album, Israel Houghton’s, and my Christmas project.”

Funeral Arrangements for Emily Harris, Singer with Bobby Jones Gospel

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Bobby Jones Gospel reported the passing of Emily Harris (pictured above second from right) via their official fan page on Facebook today.  Harris travelled the world with Dr. Jones for over 2 decades as part of the New Life Singers  (recording the critically acclaimed 1993 Tyscot CD Bring It To Jesus) and then as part of the Nashville Super Choir.  (more…)

Happy Holidays From The Team! Read About What We Love About The Holiday Season! :-)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The holiday season is generally a time of reflection, fellowship, and used to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Everything done at is a direct result of the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Our hallmark scripture is John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease”, this is the reason that we at are in operation. Our goal has always been to provide you interesting, accurate, Gospel industry news with a positive spin. We plan to continue this legacy and thank you for your support. We wanted to put faces to the names that you see all year long on our site providing you with content.  Check out what we love about the holiday season!

Melanie Clark-Pratt-Co-Founder & CEO

“What I enjoy most about the Christmas season is that it’s one of the few times a year that we can turn everything off, focus on family, and rest. In the business of gospel, the lines are so easily blurred between worship and work, and Christmas is one of those times that everyone respects as family time. Looking forward to sharing with my family and turning the office lights off! :0) ”



James Robinson– Co-Founder & Director of Operations

“I enjoy the spirit of giving around this time of year. Not just from saved or churched people, but also from unsaved and unchurched individuals. You see the softer side of people during this people. It’s cool to see someone who might be considered a “thug”, give. I love to see kids happy, and you see a lot of that during this time. As believers we get a chance to teach the world about the real meaning of christmas, we can use this platform to introduce Jesus Christ. It’s a great time of year, and the food is definitely a plus lol. Happy Holidays!”


Stan North– Co-Founder & Managing Editor

“One of the best parts about Christmas is digging out those old CD favorites! Some of these projects never grow old to me. They just seem to be specially suited for the cold weather, wind whipped snowflakes, and the smell of pine needles. Not to mention the smell of turkey permeating throughout the home.   Kirk Franklin and the FamilyChristmas” and more recently Israel & New Breed’sA Timeless Christmas” project get picked out first, but my family and I also love spinning “Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration”.  We have even been known to pass some hours with Rev. Cleophus Robinson and Staples Singers LPs (A Gospel Christmas Card) in the background –and that’s going way back”


Gerard Bonner– Co-Founder & Associate Editor

“The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of year. I absolutely LOVE Christmas music. Something about it just feels right, to the point where I can listen all year long! Growing up in New York, it was all about Chirstmas music and the SNOW! As an adult, we don’t get many opportunities to experience a “white Christmas”, but it’s definitely a plus about the season. Lastly, people just seem to be nicer during this time of year. I love that about this season. Indeed, Joy to the World!”



Dwayne Lacy– Contributing Writer

“I love going into stores, hearing Christmas songs, and watching people enjoy songs about Christ. I like to hear different artists’ (Gospel and secular) interpretations of  Christmas classics. Hanging out with family is always great. There are many without loved ones during this time. I find myself cherishing the moments with my family more and more . I love to eat! So eating my mom’s cooking is a must! It’s always cool to give some gifts or to try and bring some cheer to those who may be down. This season, I plan on being more of a blessing to others.”


Martin Williams– Contributing Writer

“One of the many things I love about the Christmas season is the music and the overall feeling of the season.  It’s truly a time where everyone comes together. There’s so much going on in the world right now, and everyone needs hope and inspiration. It’s important to remember the true reason of the season–giving and sharing the good news of the Gospel, and showing the love of God. Not just during this time, but year round.”



Nakiyah Hayling– Contributing Writer

“This is probably my favorite time of the year! I love Christmas music and I listen to it all year round. I love this season because it gives every one extra incentive to come together with family and friends, and enjoy each other. People are more giving, more loving, and seemingly more willing to share. I love watching the Christmas classics, caroling (yes I said caroling) 🙂 , decorating the tree, and wrapping gifts. It affords another opportunity to show love to those I’m around. One of my favorite Christmas projects is a “Mary Mary Christmas” by Mary Mary, I definitely rock that in my house or at a family gathering. I’m always excited about this time of the year!”


Road To The Stellars-Industry Insider & PR Veteran – JoJo Pada

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Profile Feature: JoJo Pada

Noted Work: Founder of leading Gospel music industry public relations firm- IgnitionPR, Former publicity director of Light Records and Zomba Gospel. Has spent 15 years in the music entertainment industry working with a myriad of entertainment entities. Some include: Essence Magazine, The Discovery Channel, and The NBA Players Association. Has been involved with press campaigns for some of Gospel music’s most noted artists. Some include: Mary Mary,  Jessica Reedy, Dawkins&Dawkins,  Donald Lawrence, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, Hezekiah Walker, Coko Clemons, The Clark Sisters, Commissioned, Darryl Coley and many more.

 JoJo Pada is a known face and force in the Gospel music industry. With years of experience in the entertainment industry, she knows what it takes to make it in the music world. This is why she is the “go to girl” for all things PR in the Gospel music industry. After many years with prestigious and noted entertainment labels and entities she launched IgnitionPR and has been putting her public relations prowess to work on campaigns for Mary Mary, Jessica Reedy, Dawkins&Dawkins, William McDowell, Gail Holmes, Ricky Dillard&New G, Pastor Shirley Caesar and more. We caught up with her to get her perspective on Stellar Awards weekend and get some tips for artists and musicians trying to break into the industry. : Where are some places that you think new artists/musicians should definitely try to be during the Stellar Awards weekend?

JoJo Pada: Firstly, the Stellar Awards Weekend is the premier gathering for artists (independent/major), executives, and radio personalities.I believe in the Stellar Awards and sowing into it. It has been our foundation.  One of the great events that happens right at the start on Thursday night is the industry prayer meeting  at the church CeCe Winans attends in Nashville–Born Again Church. It’s put together by Carla Williams and is an opportunity for the music industry to come together and pray for the strength of the industry, the year, and  all that is to come. It’s a great way to start off one’s time during this weekend of events. There are a few events that happen on friday that are definitely worth checking out. There’s the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards, which is invitation only, but if artists are affiliated with BMI they should look into trying to be at that event. It’s for excutives and artists and provides an opportunity to honor those who have been pivotal in advancing the reach of Gospel music. The Stellar Awards Pre-show is another great place to be. It is a red carpet event and there are definitely industry executives and radio entities present that will be essential to artists. Friday night the Bonnerfide Radio party takes place. I think this is a great networking event. It’s great because many signed/unsigned artists are given a platform to perform. So many different people from the Gospel music industry attend the event, so it’s definitely somewhere that one might want to be. The Stellar Radio Awards Saturday is also a great place to be. It’s a gathering of all of the radio entities and personalities being recognized for their great work throughout the year. Artists definitely want to be there because these are the people that will possibly provide them with the necessary airplay that will contribute to their success. Last but not least, artists/musicians should definitely find themselves at the Stellar Awards taping.  This is where one sees how it all comes together. It’s definitely the height of the weekend. What do you think executives are looking for in artists?

JoJo Pada: They are looking for a full package. They want you to have a following–and audience of people that believe in your artistry and will support it. An artist needs to have a clear vision of who they are and where they want to go. Amber Bullock and Jessica Reedy are good examples of this. They want to know that you are on the right path, so that they will be confident in making an investment in you. What do you enjoy the most about the Stellar Awards weekend of events?

JoJo Pada: My favorite event is the BMI Trailblazers Gospel Music Awards. It started about 6-7 years ago and it’s such a beautiful event. It’s reminiscent of the Clive-Davis’ Pre-Grammy event that happens yearly. The mic gets passed around a lot during the tributes, and there’s such a feeling of excitement in the air. I love it! I look forward to the event each year.

We hope that you were able to take away some good nuggets from JoJo Pada. Continue to keep your eyes open for more “Road To the Stellars -Industry Insider” pieces all leading up the big event on January 14th in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kim Burrell & Israel Houghton Will Host The 13th Annual BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Kim Burrell and Israel Houghton will host the 13th annual BMI Trailblazer’s of Gospel Music Awards, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on January 13th. The BMI awards honors those in Gospel music that have served as trailblazers.  This year’s honorees are Hezekiah Walker and Kirk Franklin. They have definitely blazed a trail in different ways within the Gospel music genre. Kirk Franklin has revolutioned Gospel in the realm of traditonal and contemporary styles, and Hezekiah Walker has shown his astounding ability to produce hit after hit with the choir sound. Congratulations to Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker! It’s sure to be a great event.

Upcoming Motion Picture “Joyful Noise” Features Gospel Artist Kirk Franklin On It’s Soundtrack!!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011


WaterTower Music is set to release the soundtrack for the upcoming motion picture “Joyful Noise” on January 10th, 2012. Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures will be releasing the film.  Queen Latifah, KeKe Palmer, Dolly Parton, and Jeremy Jordan will star in the movie. The soundtrack includes an original song written and performed by 2012 Grammy and Stellar Award nominated gospel artist Kirk Franklin. Award winning Gospel artist Karen Peck is also featured on the soundtrack. Five time Grammy winner Mervyn Warren produced and arranged all of the songs on the project. Warren is known for his work on motion pictures: “Dream Girls“, “Sister Act 2“, and “The Preacher’s Wife“.

Mary Mary Announces The Winner of The “Something Big” Contest!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Churches across the nation submitted their entries for the “Something Big” contest.  The “Something Big” contest provided an opportunity for churches to highlight a need in their community that they were able to provide a solution for. The winner of the contest would receive a personal concert at their church by Mary Mary and breakfast courtesy of The Pillsbury Brand.  The Winner of the “Something Big” contest is the True Holy Church-City of Refuge church in Brooklyn, N.Y. They have been operating a kitchen pantry and clothing pantry since 1988 and have served approximately 33,000 people in 2010. On average they distribute 275 bags of food per week.

Congratulations to the True Holy Church-City of Refuge for the wonderful work they are doing in the community. Congratulations to Mary Mary as they continue to encourage folks across the nation and worlwide to do “Something Big” in their world.

Road To The Stellars Profile- ChoirMaster Ricky Dillard & New G

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Profile Feature: Ricky Dillard&New G

Nominations: “Choir Of The Year” “Traditional CD Of The Year“, “Music Video Of The Year-Long Format” (Keep Living), “Traditional Choir of the Year“,

Noted Work: 8 recorded projects-some include: “The Promise“, “Worked It Out“, Welcome To The Real World“,“No Limit“, and the 2012 Stellar Award Nominated “Keep Living“, a host of musical and television appearances, featured in motion picture “Leap Of Faith” starring Steve Martin (1992), Winner of several Stellar Awards, Grammy nominated


Ricky Dillard& New G have graced the gospel scene since the mid 80’s with their robust choir sound and high energy. Not only do we love to hear them sing, but we love to watch them get down whenever they perform. Dillard&New G are certainly mainstays of the Gospel genre. Ricky Dillard&New G’s newest project “Keep Living“, released on Light Records/EOne Entertainment, has garnered them 4 2012 Stellar Awards nominations. We caught up with Ricky Dillard to get his perspective on the nominations, his take on the place of choir, and what he enjoys most about The Stellar Awards weekend. You and New G are nominated for 4 Stellar Awards this year. How are you all feeling about this accomplishment?

Ricky Dillard:  It’s always an honor to be nominated and recognized for anything. The Stellar Awards have been committed to gospel music for almost three decades & provide an amazing opportunity for enthusiasts of gospel to see some of their favorite artists. It’s as a chance for the artist to come together, fellowship, and participate in what turns out to be an elegant weekend. I’m grateful to be a past winner and am honored to be recognized again with several nominations. We’ve seen what some might call a “comeback” of the Choir sound in the last few years. Do you view it as a “comeback”? If so, why do you think the choir sound is becoming popular again with gospel music lovers?

Ricky Dillard: I would call it less of a “comeback” and more of a “push forward”. Some of us, who are committed to excellence in music without eliminating the choir, have been more resilient & determined to not just let others dictate what we’ve been building for years. I have a very strong opinion on the choir and still believe that it has relevance in the church on Sunday mornings, and it’s still very relevant in concerts around the world. We still get calls from overseas, for the choir to come to share ministry. I’ve always loved the choir sound and I love being apart of the choir movement, and now the revolution. What do you enjoy the most about The Stellar Awards weekend?

Ricky Dillard: The fellowship, the incredible Five star dinners and presentation, as well as the ability to celebrate all of my constituents who are excelling in ministry & their artistry.

Find out if Ricky Dillard and New G win at the 2012 Stellars Awards by making your way to Nashville, Tennessee in January. It was great catching up with Ricky Dillard. Keep checking in throughout the week for more “Road To The Stellars” Stellar Profiles.

Mary Mary Receives Top Honors at Soul Train Music Awards

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Gospel Super Duo Mary Mary took home the award for “Best Gospel Performance” at this year’s Soul Train Awards.  The star studded show was held on November 17th at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Ga. and aired on November 27th on BET.   This year’s event celebrated the 40th anniversary of Soul Train and featured notable performances by Mary Mary as well as BeBe Winans.