Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ricky Dillard Loses Atlanta Home

When word hit the media and blogs about the recent tragedy regarding gospel singer Ricky Dillard's six bedroom home located in DeKalb County, Georgia, disbelief were the first reactions to the breaking news. But serious confirmations were made from WSBTV-2 in Atlanta and the Associated Press - and that ended all doubt. Luckily, no one was injured and was in the house during the fire outbreak. Sources state the fire was a complete disaster - destroying the entire home along with awards and old footage of his choir's performances. There still is no confirmation on how the fire got started. Usually in instances like this the fire department investigates the reasons of the fire - but those have not been disclosed yet. Ricky Dillard, at the time, had just finished a live recording session for an upcoming album release on the Alliant music label in Toronto, Canada. According to the AP news release, Dillard had no plans of returning to Atlanta until February 2007 but will have to come back earlier to access the damage from the fire.
Our prayers remain with Dillard in this painful and heartbreaking situation.

Singer's Home Is A Total Loss (
No Injuries, But Fire Destroys Georgia Home (Yahoo Canada)

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The 22nd Annual Stellar Awards results are in. Sad to say that the taped award show won't be televised until weeks from now. That's so they can edit and crop down the long celebration to a meesly two hours. And oh yes, take out all the shouting, all the emotion, the long-long speeches and the awards they feel no one cares about. But the results are still in...and it looks like Donald Lawrence wins again. For the second year in a row, Donald Lawrence has swept the Stellar boards with big victories in multiple categories. He does it again with his send-off to the Tri-City Singers for the album "Finale'". He won Artist of the Year - whipping out Tye Tribbett, Kirk Franklin and Martha Munizzi and also took home awards for Choir of the Year, Producer of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, Contemporary Choir of the Year, Special Event CD of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Recorded CD Package of the Year. Strangely, most of the victories for "Finale'" zoomed in on Act One - the first installment of the live recording. There was another release, Act Two, that seemed to be unmentioned in the process. That collection featured amazing selections including the current radio hit "Encourage Yourself" and the uptempo jam "God Is". But D. Lawrence triumphs once again and has a lot of reason to celebrate.

Myron Butler did an impressive job in taking home some of the year's best awards including New Artist, Group/Duo of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

Kirk Franklin was unexpectedly overshadowed for his big single "Looking For You" as Byron Cage's funky "I Will Bless The Lord" took home the Single of the Year award. The song was penned by DC native Isaiah D. Thomas - an upcoming producer and accomplished songwriter.

In an act of loving kindness, Donald Lawrence decided to sow an award into the ministry of Tye Tribbett & G.A. Guess he felt that Tribbett was being overlooked that night since so many expected Tribbett to reap a major amount of awards. The decision for Lawrence to do that was unexpecting and full of heavy emotion. Expect to hear more about this moment in conversations circulating the gospel industry for awhile.

The James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement of Fame went to the Mighty Clouds of Joy while the Chervolet Most Notable Achievement Award went to the Clark Sisters.

Below are a final list of the winners for this year's Stellarbration.

Artist Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers

Song Of The Year
I Will Bless The Lord - Byron Cage

Choir Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers

Producer Of The Year
Donald Lawrence

Group/Duo Of The Year
Myron Butler & Levi

New Artist Of The Year
Myron Butler & Levi

Female Vocalist Of The Year
Dorinda Clark-Cole
Contemporary Group/Duo Of The Year
Myron Butler & Levi

CD Of The Year
Kirk Franklin "Hero"

Traditional Group/Duo Of The Year
The Williams Brothers & Their Superstar Friends
Contemporary Male Vocalist Of The Year

Tye Tribbett & G.A.
Traditional Male Vocalist Of The Year
Bishop G.E. Patterson
Contemporary Female Vocalist Of The Year
CeCe Winans
Traditional Female Vocalist Of The Year
Shirley Caesar

Contemporary CD Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers "Finale'"

Traditional CD Of The Year
New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee "The Reunion"
Urban/Inspirational Single/Performance Of The Year
Tye Tribbett & G.A. "Victory"
Traditional Choir Of The Year
Hezekiah Walker & LFC "20/85: The Experience"
Contemporary Choir Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers
Instrumental CD Of The Year
Ramsey Lewis "With One Voice"
Special Event CD Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers "Finale'"

Rap/Hip-Hop CD Of The Year
Da' T.R.U.T.H. "The Faith"
Children's Performance Of The Year
Youth For Christ "The Struggle Is Over"
Quartet Of The Year
Keith Wonderboy Johnson & the Spiritual Voices
Music Video Of The Year
Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers "Finale'"
Another strange factor to look at in this category: the other nominees had selected performances (one selection) while Lawrence won for an entire DVD presentation of songs.

Recorded Music Package Of The Year
Philpott Design/Jay Blakesburg for Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers "Finale'"
Praise and Worship CD Of The Year

Kevin Burroughs Neely "Fingers Of Fire Volume One"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Good News / Bad News

Let's make it exclusive: Happy New Year!

Reports are in about the progress of gospel and Christian music from 2006 and according to Nielsen Christian Soundscan and the Gospel Music Association (GMA), the reports look favorable. US gospel album sales increased since 2005 and shows an impressive interest in digital sales as well. Reports concluded that in the first six months of 2006, gospel music sales grew 11.6 percent, compared to the four percent decline during the first quarter of 2005. The reports also had a hard time trying to categorize gospel music since most of their audiences borderline musical genres and styles. Styles include praise-and-worship, hip-hop and hardcore metal bands. Even though Christian music only makes up 6% in the overall music industry, the genre continues to grow. Top-selling artists of 2006 included Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Kutless and Yolanda Adams.

Now onto the bad news: You may have already heard about the Max Siegel departure from his position(s) at Zomba/Verity, but if you haven't - here it goes. What is hailed as being one of the biggest moves and transitions of 2006, Gospel Music Executive, Max Siegel announced his departure from Verity Records (President) and Zomba Recording Corporation (Vice-President) and will be venturing into NASCAR as the CEO of Dale Earnhardt Enterprises, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Siegel's work in gospel music has been fantastic. He leaves behind a label that is now stronger than it ever was; racking up 42% of all of gospel music sales and a roster that includes heavyweights such as Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Andrae' Crouch, Richard Smallwood and Donald Lawrence.

Jazzy Jordan, a former employee of Zomba and veteran in the gospel industry whom left Verity to start his own label (Jordan Entertainment), was called back to run both Verity and GospoCentric Records. Gessie J. Thompson now operates Jordan's label.

The Stellar Awards will be his last public appearance in the Gospel music industry. Tough.