James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award
For over two decades, Kurt Carr has been blessing the household of faith with modern day hymns such as “For Every Mountain;” “I Almost Let Go;” “In the Sanctuary,” and “God Blocked It.” In due course, the maestro’s earned an RIAA Certified Gold CD; a Grammy Award nomination and a gaggle of Stellar Awards. As he unveils his eighth CD, Bless This House (Verity Gospel Music Group), the gifted songwriter, conductor and producer says his new music doesn’t diverge from his masterful work of the past but merely builds upon it. “It’s a continuum of who I am,” Carr explains. “I believe I’ve come into what my niche and what my purpose is - to make music that edifies the Body and blesses the church of Jesus Christ.”
For those keeping tabs on Carr, it’s been almost four years since he turned heads with his chart-topping One Church project, but this time around the multiple Stellar recipient says he’s not looking to replicate the genre-bending eclecticism of that recording. In many ways, JUST THE BEGINNINGis about him stripping things down and going back to the basics.
“The last album was a thematic album; it was a stretch. We had bagpipes, accordion—sounds that have never been associated with gospel music,” Carr says. “These songs are very singer-friendly, very congregational. This time, I’m going back to my roots—church music.”
That’s good news for the church. A protégé of not one, but two gospel legends—he was mentored by both Richard Smallwood and James Cleveland—Carr has carved a niche of his own in Sunday-morning liturgies, blessing worshippers with his unmistakable knack for choir-friendly melodies and a cross-cultural appeal second to none.
For proof, one needs not look further than Carr’s signature song, “In the Sanctuary”—also the centerpiece of his breakthrough, gold-selling recording Awesome Wonder—to realize his keen ear for the corporate. To this day, millions continue to sing the song across the globe every week, in no less than nine different languages. “After the success of that song, I knew that God had called my music ministry to reach people of all races and all people who have an open ear for God’s message,” says Carr.
Through the years, this calling to reach anyone with ears to hear has led Carr to write an armload of instant classics and standards for the modern church, including the bona fide hits “I Almost Let Go;” “For Every Mountain;” “Kumbaya;” “God Great God;” and “God Blocked It,” as well as “The Presence of the Lord,” the song that put Byron Cage on the map. Kurt Carr has ministered in over 20 countries and was recently named honorary principal of a Gospel music school in Japan that boasts a “Kurt Carr” class of gospel music production!
Thomas A. Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award
Bishop T.D Jakes is a charismatic leader, visionary, provocative thinker, and entrepreneur who serves as senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church located in Dallas.
Named “America’s Best Preacher” by Time Magazine, Jakes’ voice reverberates from the world’s most prominent stages. Through his nexus of charitable works, T.D. Jakes is known for extending a hand of help to the needy, heart of compassion to the hurting, and message of inspiration to the disenfranchised.
Beyond the pulpit, Jakes ranks among the 25 Most Influential African Americans, Britain's 100 Most Influential Black People, EBONY’s Power100 and is the recent winner of McDonald’s prestigious 365Black Award for his humanitarian efforts. His worldwide impact is felt through an empire that spans film, television, radio, best-selling books, and conference series.
Bishop Jakes made his presence felt in Hollywood with the release of “Jumping the Broom,” an award winning romantic comedy that debuted as the #1 comedy and grossed nearly seven times its budget in 2011. Rounding out a prodigious year, Jakes also released “On the Seventh Day,” the first sequel in the “Woman Thou Art Loosed” franchise which ranked as the number one independent film opening weekend, outperforming the competition on a per screen average. The much anticipated remake of “SPARKLE,” featuring Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston opened in the top five on August 17, 2012 with the highest per screen average and viewer rating.
Celebrating 30 years of marriage, Thomas Dexter and Serita Jakes are parents to five children and three grandchildren. He credits his own parents as the source of his perseverance and sense of self-reliance.
After more than 35 years in ministry, Jakes continues to be a leading voice of innovation, inspiration, and influence in Christendom today.
Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award
Inez Andrews is a Gospel diva. In a word, she is a CLASSIC. A powerful contralto voice, Miss Andrews has been among gospels’ greatest. Born on April 14th in Birmingham, Alabama, Inez has been singing God’s praises since the tender age of 7. This powerhouse is hailed the High Priestess of Gospel. She is also one of Gospel's foremost songwriters and has had many of her creations attain cross-over success.
A recording artist since 1957 and a member of the legendary Chicago-based Caravan Singers, Miss Inez continues to thrill audiences with her intense projection and phenomenal vocal range.
“My music is what they call Traditional Gospel music”, she says. “I'm committed to this style, which I believe will outlast all the rest. It has taken me from the storefront to Carnegie Hall and around the world”.
Her first professional experience began in the Birmingham's Carter Choral Ensemble. In 1952, she was asked her to join the Gospel Harmonettes, a well-known women's quartet led by Dorothy Love Coates and shared the stage with Gospel legends like Brother Joe Mays, Queen C. Anderson, Sallie Martin, Roberta Martin, Raymond Raspberry, Robert Anderson and James Cleveland. Cleveland went back to Chicago and told Albertina Walker, who was leader of the famous Caravan Singers, about Inez. “Albertina called me to audition in 1957 and I've been there ever since”. During this season, Ms. Andrews began honing her songwriting skills, penning tunes such as, ‘I'm Not Tired Yet’, ‘God Said So’, ‘What Will Tomorrow Bring’, ‘I'm Willing To Wait’, and ‘Your Friend’. It was with the Caravans that she recorded ‘Mary Don't You Weep’, which earned them a Gold Record and later became Gold for Aretha Franklin and James Cleveland on the ‘Amazing Grace’ album .
During the off seasons with the Carvans, Inez formed her own group called The Andrewettes.
Working with a young Billy Preston and Andre Crouch, she recorded ‘A Letter to Jesus’ using a sermonette that became a pop radio hit! After a Stellar career with the Carvans, Inez Andrews went solo completely in 1971 and had huge success with her crossover Gold hit, ‘Lord Don’t Move the Mountain’. She recorded five albums with ABC and later completed three successful albums with the Savoy label. In addition, she recorded albums for Jewel Records, Ichiban Records, Spirit Feel Records and her last album with Word Records, Raise Up a Nation, produced by Jerry Peters and James Bullard. Every album has been filled with classic songs from her pen.
Miss Andrews continues to perform spot dates with the Caravans and recorded a reunion album entitled, Pave the Way. Inez has indeed ‘paved the way’ for female artist in today’s gospel market and her gifts have had a major impact in the Gospel world, then and now. In 2002, Inez was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Miss Andrews resides in Chicago, Illinois. She has seven children. Her son Richard Gibbs Jr., is a well-known musician who works with his mom as well as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her daughters, Gail and Legretta, and son, Casey record with her on occasion.
“I can't tell people much about me, but I can tell them a lot about the Lord”, she says. “He's kept me and blessed me throughout the years. As long as I have breath, I'm going to keep on lifting up the Name above all names”.
The Stellar Awards executive committee was saddened by the passing of Inez Andrews, a gospel icon. We will continue to celebrate her life, legacy and her music. May God grant her family peace with the knowledge that Inez was a true Christian and is now at peace.
Don Jackson, Chairman and CEO
Stellar Gospel Music Awards
"My name is Monique Britton. I wanted to get in on the blog action too. I am that voice on the other line of the phone that tries to answer all of your questions."
"This is always an interesting time. I want to share a special moment from the 2012 Stellar Awards. Some of the things that happen with the artists backstage are pretty spectacular. This story is centered around a girl name Angelique (Angel) Rocker, 17 and Kirk Franklin."