Key of Gospel Music & Ministry Awards

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The Dallas Examiner

“The Key of Gospel Music & Ministry Awards, hosted by the prestigious TEGMA – The Elite Gospel Music Academy – was created to recognize some of the nation’s best and brightest in the gospel music and ministry arena,” announced Candy West from the stage of the Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church in Garland.

She and co-hosts Maurice Griffin and James Henderson welcomed a live audience to the Jan. 30 inaugural event.

Forty-three categories representing new music, contemporary and traditional performers, rappers, choirs, magazines, online content, pastors, and similar genres and entities made up the body of the contest. Additionally, recipients for the 2016 ICON Awards and Lifetime Achievement awards were revealed.

Those submitting nominees were members of TEGMA, according to the awards policy.

Voting was done by TEGMA members through an online ballot process. Over a thousand nominations were received by the organization, Griffin noted.

Throughout the evening there was live music, dancing, a few Steve Harvey/Miss Columbia jokes and plenty of emotion. Bishop Clinton Smith got the audience roused and their voices raised during his acceptance speech for his win in the Male Preacher of the Year category.

“This is a privilege, amen,” the bishop expressed as he collected his statuette. “Let’s do this thing, amen, as I take my seat. Look at someone and tell them ‘You’re next.’ Tell ‘em, look at ‘em. Look ‘em in the face, don’t be scared of them. Tell them ‘I am next.’”

His voice intensifying as members of the audience eagerly complied.

“What God is getting ready to do in your life, I wish you would lay hands on two or three people and tell them ‘I’m next,’” he preached while the crowd loudly exclaimed in unison.

“I’m next.”

One unexpected moment occurred when Zacardi Cortez, presenter and nominee for the Album of the Year award, ended up opening the winner envelope to find that he had won the honor for the exact category he was presenting.

“It’s me,” he exclaimed, as he grinned and held up the paper note that named his album Reloaded the best of the contenders.

“I hope they spelled my name right, here,” he joked about the statuette as he walked offstage.

Carmina Barnett was a dual winner when 970 AM KHVN Heaven 97 was picked as Radio Station of the Year in a large market and Barnett as the winner for Radio Announcer of the Year.

The DFW media personality acknowledged that the recognition held personal importance when she considered how she came to win the award.

“Y’all, it’s such honor when your family, the people that you serve every day, say ‘We’re proud of you.’ That means everything,” she admitted. “I’m part of a wonderful team and it’s our honor to serve this community every chance we get …”

Similarly, Ruth Goolsby declared “I’m probably the most shocked person in the room,” as she stood onstage to collect her award for Contemporary Artist of the Year.

“God is good, which is the testament of when you go through a lot of things and you made a lot of promises …” she continued.

“This Person holds you right when He wants you to do that, and that, and you never get that call, but God just says ‘Keep pressing on it,’” she shared. “Keep believing.”

Other major awards of the evening included:

Artist of the Year: Dana Hemphill

New Artist of the Year: Kelley Deanna

Traditional Artist of the Year: Apostle Darrell Yancey

Gospel Rap Artist of the Year: Norris J

Independent Artist of the Year: Chad Stevenson

Church Choir of the Year: God’s Tabernacle of Deliverance Bishop’s United Voices

Internet Radio Station of the Year: Urban Praise,

A full list of this year’s winners is available online.

As the evening went on hope was expressed by many participants for the awards to return in 2017. A final announcement on that development not yet been made.


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