Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Stellar Sweep Goes Wrong

Okay, I'm not a hater so don't get things twisted...but the Stellars seem to love honoring those that fit well in the popular category, because the Voting Committee of these awards are now only focusing on their T-Mobile 5 Favs instead of focusing on the big picture.

The announcement of Saturday's 23rd Annual Stellar Award results are finally out (sorry, didn't attend) and to my surprise, as usual, the bulk of the awards ended up going to the good ol' buddies of the industry. Donald Lawrence has taken home in a three year radius almost every award since the release of 2004's I Speak Life. Now he's being honored for two projects he's affiliated with: newcomer DeWayne Woods "Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet" and the final chapter of the Clark Sisters "Live: One Last Time." Both albums, produced by D. Lawrence, stole the show and apparently stole the awards from the other nominees. Call it the ultimate black ghetto award fiasco gone wrong again. Why I call it a fiasco? Because even the big critics, such as myself, know that both of these albums lacked substance, strong material, and an evenness that great albums should possess - and better suited projects that were nominated failed to get the big endorsement from the voting squad of the Stellar Awards.

Check this out and tell me if this doesn't make sense.
Artist of the Year - Clark Sisters
Song of the Year - Let Go, Let God by DeWayne Woods
Male Vocalist of the Year - DeWayne Woods
Producer of the Year - Donald Lawrence
Group or Duo of the Year - Clark Sisters
New Artist of the Year - DeWayne Woods
CD of the Year - Live - One Last Time by the Clark Sisters
Traditional Group of the Year - Clark Sisters
Urban Inspirational Single/Performance of the Year - Let Go, Let God by DeWayne Woods

Almost look like the credits to a YouTube Do-It-Yourself-music video.

Don Johnson - you oughta be ashamed of yourself for hiring and soliciting a narrow-minded team of inexperienced voters to come up with this year's wins. Use some common sense here. Dreamgirls, the motion picture, was a great film and deserved at least one or two Oscars, but it didn't deserve a sweep...and it didn't. Sweeps usually take place when there's nothing else good in place. Personally if I were a Stellar nominee, I would have wanted a refund and probably would have wanted to call my lawyer - demanding to sue the entire event - for stealing my time.

What makes this situation even more frustrating is knowing that both projects were marinated by the gospel industry with circumstantial hype and overdone "reality-TV" glitz that most of the other albums couldn't compete. In the end, it really looks like the other candidates - even if they had perfect albums and performances - couldn't stand in the ring with the Clark Sisters' heartbreaking final album as a group and the buzz surrounding DeWayne Woods' popular search-engine bio announcing his deliverance from HIV. But when did music award shows become humanitarian awards?

Honestly, there's too many friendships and buddy systems in place at the Stellars. Thank God for real award shows like the GRAMMYs. At least they cover the entire spectrum of each genre and try to deliver a more eclectic and reasonable response to their voting process.

And I don't care who hates me after I post this - because I don't hate anyone. I just believe fair is fair. When I think of Best Album of the Year...I don't think my best friend should win it because I hung out with them at the mall last weekend and I took a picture with them at last year's church convocation. But I must get over this setback in gospel music history...I always thought R&B was my true calling.


Pirouette said...

The same folks win every year. That's why I don't make a point to tune in.

Another weird thing: PAJAM Presents 21:03 won the Rap/Hip Hop Gospel CD of the Year, but I thought they were an R&B group. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Well I'll tell you one person who doesnt hate you, but would like to congratulate you on a fair assessment with what is wrong with gospel music at large. We are so enamored with personalities that we cant even be fair. Dewayne Woods as best male voclist, Please let's stop the charade. Is he good? Yes. The best, not even close. In all honesty, nobody even cares abt the stellar awards anymore. They lost their credibility. Shame to say but I'd rather watch celebration of gospel.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say... LOL.


Anonymous said...

It's not difficult to be part of the voting committee for the Stellars. If you want to change it, register and become a member of the Academy.

Anonymous said...

I am totally elated for The Clark Sisters who definitely stand alone. It is their time and that's just all to it. Like the earlier post stated if you don't like it well rally up some folk and get them to vote the way you would like for it to go. Sounds like you have something against D.Lawrence. Congratulations again to the Clark sisters...long overdue.


To the last anonymous writer that commented that I have something against D Lawrence, apparently you have something wrong with your reading. Did you read the part that I hate no one. And did you read the part that both albums inherited a glory (substantial hype) that superceeds the album's content. Sounds like we got another Clark Sisters super-fan on board.

Anonymous said...

Gospel music has become a lesson in homogenization like all other music.

Which make me feel like we're conforming to the world instead of being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

I'm the biggest clark fan on earth. Which is why this is a disappointing win for me. This was probably the most run of the mill album they could've released. There is nothing that pushed the envelope and raises the standard like all of their previous releases have done.

And Dewayne I just don't feel is an effective minister nor an important singer. But he's popular, he's sung with the right people and he's "paid his dues" in the business. Who cares. God exalted Elijah from utter obscurity. Popularity and being a part of the "elite" or "inner circle" means nothing to GOD.

Anonymous said...

soapbox time:

...and! lol...emi should be ashamed for being so cheap in the post-production and release of the clark's "final" album. Tri-city got the most pomp and circumstance of all time for their finale, and The Clark Sisters, possibly the most universally hailed vocal geniuses in gospel music, get a truncated, poorly produced, poorly packaged, and decently promoted cd. The live recording was AMAZING and they did just about all of their big hits...most of which did not make the album.

now im off of my soapbox lol

Anonymous said...

Well I personally agree with the results, except maybe for Traditional Male Vocalist should have went to Timothy Wright and not Richard Smallwood! But as for the Clark Sisters and Dwayne Woods in my opinion..THEY DISERVED EVERY AWARD THEY RECIEVED and DONALD LAWRENCE!!!!

So I disagree with you. Both those CD's are wonderful listening experiences!!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, J. Matthew, you are TOO FUNNY!! My husband and I laughed out loud reading your thoughts and these comments. My husband called you a "Christ-Like Howard Stern".

Second, we totally agree with your assessment. "Let Go, Let God" was a strong song and IMO, deserves an (that's one) award. But, everything else you listed was OFF, OFF, OFF! Love the Clarks...the CD now has dust on it. Serious disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Well apparently alot of people are Loving The Clark Sisters, Twinkie & Jackie made an anouncement at Jaunita Bynum B-Day Party celebration in Detroit that they Have been asked to perform at the Grammy Awards this year!!!

Go Clarks inspite of the bad reviews of your CD!!! LOLOLOL.... THE GRAMMY COMMITEE MUST ALSO LOVE YOU OTHER THAN THE STELLARS!!!!

B. McCoy said...

I feel pretty much the same way about gospel music. Thanks for this posting. This industry has become as commercial as the R&B scene. I believe there were some albums that were produced by church music ministries had more material to offer than the albums & people that won.

Those that won ARE TALENTED & ANOINTED. YES! But we must consider all in gospel this year.

Then, the show only highlights the people you see TOO MUCH. I remember one year James Hall Worship & Praise as well as Thomas Whitfield Singers were on the show doing a tribute to gospel. They don't even highlight other artists anymore as tribute to some of the honorary awards. IT'S ALL GOING TO THE DUMPS.

Write them:
Central City Productions
212 E. Ohio
Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60611

Anonymous said...

The Clark Sisters deserved the sweep at the Stellar Awards, it was one of the best cds of 2007. Regardless of what your saying about it, it still managed to rank high on the charts and got an enormous amount of radio play. Face it: A lot more people loved this album than hated it. Your review of the album was one of the few that I read that gave it such ratings. I can see your view on things for the awards overall, however. It seems sometimes that the winners of the Stellars are selected by a biased committee, as with Dorinda Clark Cole's win for female vocalist of the year for 2 years, when the artists she was up against, like CeCe Winans or Yolanda Adams actually sold more albums and got more play. Or maybe the the Stellar's aren't just based on popularity and numbers sold, perhaps? But honestly, the Clark Sisters have remained in the top 20 for 37 weeks + and were probably the most recognized album in the categories they were nominated. Their awards were earned, no matter how much you dislike the album. If you don't like how the results turn out, like someone said, join the voting committee.


To the last commenter...I'm going to once again suggest to you that the project, in all fairness, was a love token for their fans. It worked for the fans...but for REAL music lovers that expect more than ONE-MINUTE presentations of the classics and a few underdeveloped new songs on board, the album received the review that it did. And apparently you've been going to the same ol' gospel websites that kiss up to black gospel artists...apparently you've never heard of VIBE, or isn't the only face out there that doesn't fear in telling their side of the truth. And also, my job isn't to pay $100 every year to be on a voting committee. I have a greater task and purpose before me than to worry about voting for artists you probably don't support or never heard of. I am only here to shine my light on artists and music that need serious exposure.


And to the number of posters that are going on the line in speaking out about the strangeness within the Stellar Awards' voting, I applaud you. Thank you for giving leverage and momentum to the change. I'm just so glad to know that on a forum like this we can hear both sides and learn from it all. I read EVERY comment posted...and so far not one I had to delete. That's a blessing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of what u said..I do believe that the stellars have their buddy's list, and whoevers on that list wins ever yr... However..even though their was major overdubbing on The Clark Sisters album..They deserved ever award they got if not more..its been long overdo for Twinkie and her sisters! The stellars gave them a half cocked honoring last yr..but I'm grateful they are getting some recongition! Even with them getting all these awards people still sleppin of the fact that Twinkie is one of the greatest writers and musicians this side of heaven! As far as dewayne woods is concerned I believe the stellars were just being nice...I honestly don't believe he should have racked up all of them..but who am I!!!

Michael said...

I dont like the stellars...they make me sick!!

People like James Hall and Worship and Praise, who deserve some recognition never get any, and a whole slew of indie artist that are way better than these mainstream people don't get any recognition

oh yea and how the heck did that gay boy group 21:03 win rap/hip hop of the year, keywords RAP and HIP-HOP...

and how did Donald win artist of the year last year?

and how did Martha Munizzi beat Tye Tribbett for New Artist back in 2005

the stellar's suck and im not watching

i'll watch a real award show like the Grammy's

Bradley said...

I believe that the voting was fair. I think they did it on who sold the most albums, what the people liked, and who came in as the popular category. Thats how the voting goes. Everyone deserved their awards.

Anonymous said...

The Stellar Awards is not a good depiction of the Gospel Music industry. Frankly, I view it as a popularity contest. As much as love the Clark Sisters, their last CD did not wow me. I find myself listening to their older material to try to redeem "The Last Time." I personally support the independent artists because they are not jaded by the glitz and glamour. Mainstream artists are just following the route of stardom. Next year, Kirk Franklin will sweep everything. You heard it from me.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm amazed that nearly every choir in America was singing, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" but it didn't win?
Go figure. Don't get me wrong. I love Dwayne Woods and his song was wonderful.

I guess name Jesus was just too simple for the Stellars...

D said...

After reading the views expressed by PrayzeHymn, as well as the others, I am thankful that God gives us freewill whereas we can express our opinions in an open forum. I am in disagreement with your assessment of the award recipients and their albums. As a member of the academy, I take exception to your honest opinion, which turned into a vicious attack on these artist. Remember, we are dealing with opinions. Presentation is everything. YOUR presentation of YOUR disagreement with whom was selected to win the awards comes across as bitter and angry at the Stellars and the artist. Is there any harm in Psalmist DeWayne Woods proclaiming victory in Jesus name of being healed from HIV? Is there any harm in the legendary Clark Sisters, who you probably adore, winning awards because of the timelessness of their music.
News-flash: These artist actually minister to the soul about the saving, delivering and healing power of God. What a concept to "the new gospel" music (which speaks more from the power of self than the power of God) as well a person who spells his tag name incorrectly whereas young people who may not know how to spell "Praise" would be further confused. You see how insults can be thrown around loosely. Remember, this is my opinion. Now, it may not have been your intention to seem as if you were defaming the success of these artist; however, it reads as if you have a serious issue with the "FAV 5" and the Stellar committee. If I may offer some advice to you and those who are entitled to agree with the tomfoolery of your pen: These are awards to celebrate OUR own in Black Gospel music. Instead of criticizing the artist and the academy, let us celebrate their accomplishments and work toward making the academy better in what you have perceived as a flawed system. If you are not willing to do this then you will forever be a huge component of the problem. Lastly, as the body of Christ, we should get away from vicious appearances of slander. I know you mean well for the sake of journalism. However, we must remember that we cannot act like others.

Much love.

Dr. Jakes

p.s. The views expressed are mine and I was not ashamed to attach my name. Love.

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As an Artist in any genre, we know and understand that everyone is not going to applaud what we do. And yes, it hurts to know that. But that's life.

I don't believe J. Matt attacked any artist/person...maybe the artistry/product...but not the person. The reference to Wood's testimony was only to reinforce that, though very powerful, it didn't make the CD worthy of a sweep when other worthy material was available to choose from. And, he also seemed distraught that The Clarks powerful ministry was not represented better. They were overdue for an award, yes. But the point is, that doesn't mean that you award a less than worthy CD (IMO) to make up for overlooking them in the past. That's not attacking the artist. Now the 'committee', Don Johnson...that's another story. LOL. But, whether we like it our not, EVERYONE is entitled to an opinion...even in blogs.

Dr. Jakes, take the meat, throw away what you deam to be fat. But, PLEASE TAKE THE MEAT! Don't allow pride or ego (not accusing you...smooth down those feathers) to keep you from taking these perspectives or 'the meat' from them and using them to make the Stellar experience better in the future thus causing those of us who have chosen not to view the Stellar's or take them seriously to tune in. Mmmkay?

Now...let's all hold hands and sing "We Shall Overcome"! Or, "I Need You to Survive"...either would do the trick. LOL

Loopy said...

I agree with everything you said. What I think people need to remember is that the Stellars are honoring particular albums for the year. I love The Clark Sisters, too. In fact, I consider myself a REAL Clark Sisters fan, not one of these young bucks who just started listening to them within the last 10 years. I grew up listening to The Clark Sisters.

That being said, the album "One Last Time", was a huge disappointment for me, and the CD has been collecting dust in my car. Just because The Clark Sisters are legends does not mean that you overlook superior projects just to give someone a sentimental award. If you want to honor someone's artistry or ministry then give them a special TRIBUTE, or a lifetime achievement award, NOT an award for a mediocre album.

I also agree that artists like James Hall & WAP, who are original in every since of the word, and have inspired choirs and musicians and directors across the country, are constantly overlooked. I do not agree that these awards should be given out based on what is popular and what gets the most radio play. It should be based on the album itself.

One could argue that if a lot of these lesser-known artists had half the exposure of the ones we see ALL THE TIME, they would sell more CD's. The Grammys many times award lesser-known artists, and music connoisseurs seek them out and listen for themselves.

I think the Stellars themselves are becoming harder and harder to take seriously.

If I were a gambler, I would bet EVERY penny I had that, just like a previous poster said, next year Kirk Franklin will sweep EVERY category. How boringly predictable.


To the last commenter, Dr. D. Jakes.

You are a partial wise man, How could you tell I was angry? I meant to come off that way...when you get tired, you get fed up. And that's my way of dealing with a problem. I respond and deal with it; expecting results. Most church folk might not like it...but I'm sorry, I'm out to speak the truth. I think you know that being angry, by itself, isn't a sin or abomination. I'm sure you've gotten angry at least once in your most normal human beings or real Christians. Remember the Holy Scriptures are loaded with scriptures pointing to God's anger. I'm just tired and fed up with gimmicks in the gospel music industry. And in closing, I'm not acting like anyone. I'm just being myself - whom God made me. I refuse to act like someone I'm not. Be blessed.

Anonymous said...

This is my third and last anonymous comment (for And it's anonymous cause I'm at work...I caught that sly comment, Dr. Jakes. Tisk, tisk.

But I must say that though I rarely agree with many sweeps, my Kirk Franklin CD is about to melt cause I've been playing it to death. And I'm no blind fan. The last CD of his I loved was 'The Rebirth'. I hated that he wasted his musical genius sampling on every track or doing cheesy 'cool' music. But TFOML is hot..after I skip the sampled to death 'Declaration'...never listen to that. Believe, It Would Take All Day, Hide Me, Chains, It Takes A Whole Nation...pure hotness! And the soulful, r&b cuts are so authentic. May not deserve a sweep (Steller's), but he deserves something this time around.

Cush said...

I must say that I am shocked by your comments. I feel that the clark sisters have paved the way and opened doors for many artists. (mary mary, trinity 5:7, Pace Sisters, Kim Burrell etc). It is high time that they receive the recognition that they deserve. I don't know much about the Stellar awards because I live in London England. However you state that the grammy awards have a more eclectic and reasonable response to their voting process, funny then that the clarks sisters should win a clean sweep in the Gospel category at the Grammys too?
Awards ceremonys will never please everybody, ask Kanye lol. Who would you have liked to have seen pick up the awards in those categories?

Anonymous said...

it's just the Clark Sisters time to reap their much deserved blessings... and their is NOTHING you me or anybody else but God can do to take that away my brother. Be Blessed!

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how we sweat and toil over opportunity (as a race of people) and then when we have them, we turn on each other. We all have to be extremely careful that we do not engage in anything that does not bring glory to the name of Jesus. We need to think about what we want to 'spread' or impart to others. I have discovered that even if something is wrong, people will get on board with it. If God has called us to lead, we are responsible for how we lead and where lead.