Posts Tagged ‘Road To The Stellars’

Road To The Stellars Profile- Industry Insider & Veteran Neily Dickerson (New Artists Take Note!!)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Profile Feature: Neily Dickerson

Noted Work: Sparrow Communications Promotions Coordinator, Gospo Centric-Vice President of Artist Development & Promotions, Formed ND Co. in 1997. Popular soundtracks represented by the ND Co. include: “The Prince of Egypt“, “The Fighting Temptations“, “Daddy’s Little Girls“, “Madea’s Family Reunion“. Marketing, promotions, casting, talent managment and talent producer of BET’s Sunday Best, label owner, artist management.

With over 20 years of experience in the music industry, Neily Dickerson is definitely what we’d call a veteran in the game. Whether it’s artist mangement and development, public relations, marketing,or talent acquisition; Neily continues to master it all. She’s currently working on marketing and promotions as well as casting and talent producer on BET’s Sunday Best. She’s worked with noted producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Vicki Mack Lataillaide, Bebe and CeCe Winans, Karen Clark-Sheard, Ted & Sheri, Yolanda Adams, Donald Lawrence, Vashawn Mitchell, and the list goes on. From her earlier days with Sparrow Communications and Kirk Franklin & The Family until now, she continues to be a force in the gospel music industry with a wealth of knowledge and experience. We caught up with her to find out what she thinks new artists need to know to be successful in the gospel music industry, and she shared some of her fondest memories of the Stellar Awards over the years. You are a veteran in the industry and have worked with many of Gospel music’s standout artists. What are executives looking for in new artists/talent?

Neily Dickerson: The number one thing executives are looking for in artists new and established is a committment to their craft. Label executives want to know an artist is in the pursuit for the long haul, and are willing to persevere through the good, bad, ugly, easy, hard, fun, difficult, and everything that comes with “the biz.”   The music business requires that you dig in and put in the hard work it takes to become a stand out talent.  Too many artists have a sense of entitlement and want to achieve overnight success without putting forth the effort.  When developing a foundation as a Gospel artist one has to remember that it is business coupled with ministry.  So sticktuitiveness is required. : Tell us about your most memorable Stellar Awards Weekend Experiences.

Neily Dickerson:

1996 -God’s Property first Stellar Awards Performance.  Had to do the following: get 30+ singers to wardrobe, make-up, rehearsals, fittings, hair, choreography rehearsal, meals, probably had to go to the studio. Then there was Kirk Franklin!  Busy weekend, but it was GREAT!!!  They sang “My Life Is In Your Hands”

2003 -My first Church Howse Music release, “Ted & Sheri…The Healing Starts Right There” received 3 nominations for: Group Duo of the Year, New Artist of the Year, and Contemporary Group Duo of the Year. They took home Group Duo of the Year, and Contemporary Group Duo of the Year.

2008ASCAP Stellar Award Reception  I hosted and coordinated ASCAP’s first Stellar Event.  A who’s who list of artist attended, participated, were celebrated, and were presented with certificates for their nominations.  Attendees included: Kelly Price, VaShawn Mitchell, Sherri Shepherd, Jawn Murray, Coko, Clyde Duffie, Deitrick Haddon, Micah Stampley, Melanie Clark, Trin-i-Tee 5:7, Maurette Brown Clark, Craig Crawford, JJ Hairston, J. Moss, Paul “PDA” Allen, Walter Kearney, Darlene McCoy, Eboni Funderburk, Darius Brooks, Lucinda Moore, James Robinson, The 7 Sons of Soul, Pastor Rita Twiggs, Karen Clark Sheard, and many more, The saints were in the HOUSE!!!

As always we enjoy hearing Neily’s perspective and look forward to seeing her next week!  Check in later this week for more Industry Insiders for our “Road To The Stellars” series.  We are just a little under two weeks away!!!


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.


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.

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.

“Road To The Stellars” Profile- Living Legends The Rance Allen Group

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Profile Feature: Rance Allen, The Rance Allen Group

Nominations: “Traditional Group/Duo Of The Year“, “Group/Duo of the Year“, “Traditional Male of The Year”, “Quartet Of The Year

Noted Work: Over 40 years in the music industry, a host of musical perfomances and collaborations,A Few of the Numerous projects produced by The Rance Allen Group include-” Phenomenon“, “Let The Music Get Down In Your Soul“,”Up Above My Head“,”You Make Me Wanna Dance, “The Live Experience“, ” The Live Experience II



The Rance Allen Group are truly legendary. Having graced the airwaves for over 40 years with no signs of stopping, they are definitely a group to be admired and emulated. They perfectly fuse the powerful message of the Gospel with funky musical elements, which keeps them on top after all of these years.  They have stayed true to the quartet sound and continue to be viewed as a source of inspiration for many artists across the Gospel genre and beyond. They have been nominated in four categories for the 2012 Stellar Awards: “Traditional Group/Duo Of The Year“, “Group/Duo of the Year“, “Traditional Male of The Year”, “Quartet Of The Year“. We caught up with the group briefly for their perspective on this honor and their take on today’s Quartet music. You all are nominated in four categories this year and are among the top nominees, What do you attribute your success to?

The Rance Allen Group: We would say the blessing of the Lord, persistence in our work ethic, and our fans across the globe. Out of all of the events of the Stellar Awards weekend which one are you looking forward to the most?

The Rance Allen Group: I enjoy them all, however the night of the actual Stellar Awards taping is my favorite. What are your thoughts on up and coming Quartet groups like the Soulseekers?

The Rance Allen Group: They are providing a new generation of people with a sound that will continue to be enjoyed by millions. The Quartet sound will never grow old and is definitely a staple in the Gospel music world.

It was great getting a little insight from The Rance Allen Group about The Stellars & Quartet Music. Keep checking in weekly for our “Road To The Stellars” Profiles!


Road To The Stellars Profile-Powerhouse Singer & Community Activist-Y’Anna Crawley!!

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Profile Feature: Y’Anna Crawley

Nominations: “New Artist Of The Year” , “Contemporary Female Of The Year”

Noted Work: Season 2 Sunday Best Winner, “The Promise” (1st recording project after Sunday Best), BET Bobby Jones Gospel show, Celebration Of Gospel, Founded her own non-profit initiatives The Promise Foundation & Mama’s Boys, and a host of other musical appreances.



Y’Anna Crawley won our hearts over on Season 2 of BET Sunday Best with her humble presence and power packed yet sultry sound. It’s no surprise that she has been nominated in 2 categories for the 2012 Stellar Awards. Y’anna released “The Promise” in late 2010 and received great acclaim. The project has a relevant sound and touches on some serious issues that are pervasive in the lives of women worldwide. Y’Anna continues to travel and spread her message. I am sure we are all definitely proud of the work she continues to do musically, and in the community with her non-profit organizations.  Y’Anna has been nominated in the “New Artist of the Year” catergory and the “Contemporary Female Category” for the 2012 Stellar Awards.

We talked with her about her nominations and what the journey has been like as a new artist: : You’ve been nominated in two categories this year, how does it feel
as a new national artist?

Y’Anna Crawley: Can I scream?? WOW, 2 Stellar Award Nominations as a New Artist !!! I’m still pinching myself. I was in Nashville during the official press conference. I was sitting in the green room area after my performance when the list of the nominees for “New Artist of the Year” category were displayed. Tears filled my eyes when my name appeared on the screen. When I realized that I was up for “Contemporary Female Vocalist of The Year” with two of the ladies I’ve always admired–Yolanda Adams & Kim Burrell, I was even more shocked. To be considered along side these ladies who have paved the way and are veterans in this industry, is humbling ! It feels great to even be recognized for your efforts as a new comer. : What has been the most profound lesson you have learned as an artist
since your win on Sunday Best?

Y’Anna Crawley:  The most profound lesson I’ve learned since my win on Sunday Best is the importance of hard work and determination.  You’ve got to have a team of people around you that believe in you and have the ability to keep you motivated.  This has been quite a journey, but God continues to keep His promise to me. For that I am truly grateful. Whose performance are you most excited about seeing this year?

Y’anna Crawley:I’m not sure who all of the performers are, but I’ve gotten wind that two of my hometown folks are going to be hitting the stage. I’m definitely looking forward to Uncle Richard’s (Richard Smallwood) perfomance as well as Earnest Pugh.  They both have been quite an encouragement to me on my journey. 

It was great getting to get Y’anna’s perspective on her musical journey and the upcoming big event. Continue to check in on the blog for more of the “Road To The Stellars” series.


Road To The Stellars Profile: Phenomenal Vocalist, Earnest Pugh

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Profile Feature: Earnest Pugh

Nominations: “Artist of the Year”, “Male Vocalist of the Year”, “Contemporary Male Of the Year”, “Praise & Worship CD of The Year”

Noted Work: Recording Projects“Seasons Change”, “Rain On Us”, “The Hymns”, “A Worshipper’s Perspective”, “Earnestly Yours”, “A Thankful Celebration”, and a host of musical appearances.

Earnest Pugh is undoubtedly one of the best vocalist gracing the airwaves today. He continues to present music that resonantes with the hearts of gospel music lovers. His current single “I Need Your Glory” is riding at the #1 spot on the Billboard Gospel Songs Chart, and he is known for the hit song “Rain On Us“, the title track off of the 2009 “Rain On Us” recording. Earnest Pugh is nominated in four categories for the 2012 Stellar Awards nominations, which is an amazing accomplishment. caught up with Earnest Pugh to talk a little about his nominations and what he enjoys about the Stellar Awards Weekend. You are nominated for “Artist of the Year“, which covers an array of artists in the Gospel genre. How do you feel about being recognized?

Earnest Pugh: To be nominated as “Artist of The Year” is an honor that is beyond mere words. I respect the accomplishments and status of each one of my fellow nominees, and it’s a shock to me to be named among such great artists. Only God could have opened this door and placed me on this platform. I am humbled. You are also nominated for “Praise&Worship CD of the Year“. Were you expecting that nomination? Do you believe that your goal while recording “Earnestly Yours” was to create a “praise & worship” themed sound?

Earnest Pugh: Praise & worship is very near and dear to my heart, so with every CD I am sure to record music that can be ministered by praise teams on a weekly basis. What do you enjoy most about the Stellar Awards Weekend?

Earnest Pugh: The thing that I enjoy most is seeing my peers come together and do what we do. Iron sharpens iron, so I always leave empowered to go higher and dig deeper as an artist.

You can check out Earnest’s new digital Thanksgiving EP “A Thankful Celebration” at your music media outlets.

Keep checking in with the blog for more “Road To The Stellars” profiles and features!

Highlights of the Nominations & Honorees For The 27th Annual Stellar Awards

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

The 27th Annual Stellar Awards are right around the corner and we have some highlights for you as we take a journey on the “Road To The Stellars“.

Vashawn Mitchell is leading this year’s nominations list with 10 nominations!! Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Deitrick Haddon, Earnest Pugh, and Rance Allen are top nominees  amongst this year. Honorees this year include: Pastor John P. Kee (James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award) , Vy Higginsen (Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award), and Dorothy Norwood (The Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legend Award). Some standouts on the nominee list include: Independent Artist Wess Morgan, Christian Hip Hop artist Lecrae, Season 2 Sunday Best Winner Y’Anna Crawley, and the return of  the beloved Trinitee 5:7.

We’re looking forward to performances from: James Fortune & FIYA, Jessica Reedy, Kirk Franklin, Richard Smallwood, Lecrae, Kim Burrell, Ricky Dillard, Da’Truth and more!! Stay with us as we continue to take you on the “Road To The Stellars” over the next few months leading up to the big event on Saturday January 14th, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.