Released today, Central City Productions president Don Jackson issued an open letter in response to the growing concerns about its nomination process and its embattled issues of integrity.
In his letter, Jackson stated, "As a direct result of the constructive feedback of the Gospel Music Industry, from the sources I’ve identified above, I am pleased to inform you that for our 25th Anniversary Show we implemented several improvements to our Entry, Nominating and Balloting process that we feel strengthened our overall Voting process and made our procedure more open and inclusive, while continuing to maintain the integrity, fairness and highest standards of our overall process for everyone. "
Several minute changes included the elimination of the mail-in ballot, expanding the charting system to include all Nielsen BDS data which virtually allows all independents a right to a nomination and extended time record labels to submit their recommendations.
Strangely, all of these changes seem to have been made this year as evidence points that artists were added to the nomination lists days after the first round ballot surfaced. Previously, albums had to have visibility on the Billboard charts. Most of the independent artists nominated this year have not even charted on Billboard; which ultimately suggests that the new changes had to be activated prior to Jackson's recent announcement.
On the heels of the Stellar Awards' open letter to the public and gospel media, a letter from Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy (SAGMA) president Henry Harris encouraged all of the Academy's members to vote for his online Radio Station and media resource, Spiritco1.com, for Best Online Radio Station - once again creating a cloud of criticism. The problem abounds in its conflict of interest. The email was sent to Harris's Facebook followers and to his mailing list. This year, Spiritco1, also an independent marketing firm, became embroiled in a massive pool of controversy due to its long list of customers making the Stellar Awards' ballot. Included in the drama, Harris also announced a 2-for-1 membership special to help encourage his supporters to buy more memberships to increase his artists' changes to make the final ballot.
An online petition, created by gospel blogger EJ Gaines, caused a stir three week ago asking the Stellars' to develop necessary corrections. Unfortunately, only 200 individuals have signed it.
The Stellar Gospel Music Awards, celebrating its 25th year anniversary, will take place at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN on January 16, 2010.
Online Petition to SAGMA & CCP [PetitionSpot.com]