It’s arguably one of the most anticipated events of the Stellar Award Weekend. Hundreds come from across the nation in anticipation of the sweet presence that always invades the room. For many it sets the tone for their year, and is a time to be uplifted and encouraged. I’m writing about none other than the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Luncheon.
For the past 15 years the event has been hailed as the hottest ticket in town. The invitation only event is the brain child of BMI Vice President Catherine Brewton and her team. The idea was stemmed from other industries hosting events and parties to celebrate their legends. Brewton felt that Gospel music with its life changing power needed that as well. It was there that the luncheon was birthed and since its inception it continues to get better. Throughout the years the event has maintained its intimacy by gathering Gospel’s top artist, musicians, writers, and industry executives into one room. Each person in the room represents a brand and function that makes the industry work.
The anticipation and energy was high on January 15th as legends Daryl Coley and Richard Smallwood were set to be honored. Despite the cold temperatures hundreds pressed their way to the Rocket Town venue for an afternoon of praise and worship. The presence was strong as you entered the beautifully decorated room. The lighting was warm and the center pieces shined brightly. Oprah Winfrey once stated, “Love Is In The Detail”, and that’s surely something that the BMI team believes. From the personalized invitations that were sent in the mail, to the seating assignments everything about the afternoon was excellence.
After the opening prayer by Bishop Joseph Walker of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, the coveted “BMI Most Performed Gospel Song Of The Year Award” was presented to Kirk Franklin. Franklin penned Tamela Mann’s smash single, “Take Me To The King”. Both Franklin and Mann took the stage tearful and Franklin shared how both him and Mann were friends since the age of 15. Tamela’s, “Best Days” album was nearly complete but Franklin insisted they save a slot for him on the album. That slot was the now ground breaking single, “Take Me To The King”. The song has spent over 20 weeks at #1 and the “Best Days” album remains in the Billboard Top 10. With the release of the Deluxe Edition the album is quickly headed to Gold Status. This win prepared Tamela for an amazing weekend , as the next day she won the Stellar Award for “Artist Of The Year”.
Hosts Donnie McClurkin and Erica Campbell greeted the attendees and the afternoon was underway. To honor the legendary Daryl Coley, BMI put together some of the most versatile and beastly vocalist to pay tribute to one of the best male vocalist of all time:
- Floyd Wilkinson- “2nd Chronicles”
- Earnest Pugh- “More Like Jesus”
- Zacardi Cortez- “Jesus Saves”
- Tasha Page Lockart- “He’s Preparing Me”
- Jason Nelson- “Sovereign”
- Pastor Beverly Crawford- “Can’t Tell It All”.
Pastor Beverly Crawford got the entire room in a shout as she took us to church on “Can’t Tell it All”. Zacardi Cortez’s rendition of “Jesus Saves” would be a refreshing radio hit as he breathe new life into the classic. Tasha Page Lockhart’s rendition of “He’s Preparing Me” brought forth testimony service. Host Erica Campbell explained how she listened to that song many years ago when her and her sister Tina were just starting out. Jason Nelsons amazing tone on “Sovereign” made the song an even greater masterpiece. Donald Lawrence and Company sang heaven down holding the background vocals along with the band.
To honor the maestro Dr. Richard Smallwood the following artist gave the following tributes:
- Y’Anna Crawley- “Don’t Worry”
- Donnie McClurkin- “Center Of My Joy”
- Dorinda Clark Cole- “What He’s Done for Me”
- Marvin Sapp- “Healing”
- Yolanda Adams- “I Love The Lord and Total Praise”
- Anyasha Figueroa and Timiney Figueroa- “Angels”
BMI VP Catherine Brewton announced this years luncheon will be available on CD as a compilation and released later in the year. Yolanda Adams’s “I Love The Lord” was reminiscent of her powerful tribute to Whitney Houston at the NAACP Image Awards, and Anyasha and Timiney’s “Angels” brought a new light to the song as well as honored the previous version. Keep it locked to GOSPELflava.com for updates concerning the 2014 BMI Trailblazers Compilation.