A new generation of gospel artists showed up and showed out during the celebration as a testament to the genre’s staying power. Among them, Pastor Mike Jr., nominated for multiple Stellar Awards this year, performed “Big,” and host Jekalyn Carr belted her songs, “Change Your Story” and “Jehovah Jireh.” Maverick City Music treated audiences to the harmonious sound of “Jireh,” and various emerging artists such as Jokia, Terrian, and Nia Allen were spotlighted as up-and-coming gospel talent.
Big winners at the 36th Stellar Gospel Music Awards include Pastor Mike Jr., who was named Artist of the Year and won Rap/Hip Hop Gospel Album of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year. Kierra Sheard was feted during the ceremony with Song of the Year and Contemporary Album of the Year, and Maverick City Music won both New Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. Other multiple Stellar Awards winners include Jonathan McReynolds, who was named Male Vocalist of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, and as part of a group that won Producer of the Year; and Tasha Cobbs Leonard, whose wins included Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year, Praise and Worship Album of the Year, and Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year.
Select categories and winners are featured on Instagram @TheStellars. Social media lit up during the event, generating more than two million impressions with posts featuring performances, winners, and other notable moments. The audience and performers were pleased to return to an in-person ceremony after the Stellar Awards went virtual last year due to pandemic lockdowns. COVID-19 safety protocols were enacted as part of the in-person event.
Among many highlights from “The Greatest Night in Gospel Music,” Yolanda Adams, Tamela Mann, and Avery*Sunshine joined together to deliver a powerful tribute to Lady Tramaine Hawkins, who was honored with the Aretha Franklin Icon Award presented by Toyota. The trio performed a medley including widely-known Hawkins’ songs such as “Holy One,” “Changed,” and “Going Up Yonder.” The Clark Sisters, who received the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award presented by AT&T, also performed rousing renditions of “Is My Living In Vain,” “Blessed & Highly Favored,” “You Brought The Sunshine,” and “His Love.” The legendary group received three nominations for this year’s Stellar Awards.