Gospel Music Awards to be Held in Houston

Oct 15, 2003 12:33 PM EDT

Glorious jubilation joined the list of marquee events on Houston's 2004 calendar as the 19th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards were officially welcomed to the George R. Brown Convention Center Tuesday.

The Stellar Awards -- gospel music's equivalent of the Grammys -- will take place at the convention center Jan. 10 following a week of community events, including a gospel version of Star Search.

Gospel music is truly the inspirational music of the people," said Houston City Councilman Michael Berry. "Houston should get comfortable being the natural first choice for national events like this."

International superstar and Houstonian Yolanda Adams, who became the inaugural Hall of Fame recipient at last year's Stellar Awards, joined Mathew Knowles of Music World Entertainment Tuesday to announce nominees in 27 categories. Among the names she read was her own in the music-video-of-the-year category for her duet with Donnie McClurkin on The Prayer.

Adams will serve as a co-host with McClurkin and Kirk Franklin at the ceremony.

"Yolanda Adams is proof that gospel exists in Houston," said Mayor Lee P. Brown to a crowd of clergy, journalists and music fans in the convention center's Grand Ballroom.

Detroit stars Deitrick Haddon and Vickie Winans led the nominations with eight each, including artist of the year, song of the year, CD of the year and contemporary male/female vocalist of the year.

Hezekiah Walker & the Love Fellowship Choir came in second with six nominations, including CD of year, choir of the year and Walker's production credit for Family Affair II -- Live at Radio City Music Hall. Mary Mary, McClurkin, Byron Cage and Lee Williams all picked up five nominations each.

Another Houston prodigy, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, was nominated for instrumental CD of the year for his album The Gospel According to Jazz -- Chapter 11.

A local alliance that included Brown, Berry and Knowles, mastermind of the supergroup Destiny's Child, lobbied Stellar Awards' chief Don Jackson of Central City Productions Inc. to end the ceremony's five-year stay in Atlanta.

"The reason Mathew Knowles is a success at what he does is that he always keeps his eye on the prize and stops at nothing to reach his goal," said Berry. "When we got Mathew, I knew we were going to bring this to Houston."

Jackson said he was intrigued by the city's downtown revitalization, it's hotel space and the opportunity to get up to 6,000 people to the ceremony and another 4,000-9,000 out to related events. After the nomination ceremony Jackson and Berry both confirmed that a deal to keep the awards in Houston for five years was in the process of being finalized.