BMI paid homage to gospel greats Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Mighty Clouds of Joy and Pastor Marvin Winans at its ninth Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. Hosted by contemporary gospel queen Dorinda Clark Cole and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton at Rocketown in Nashville, the invitation-only celebration attracted gospel music's premier songwriters, recording artists, music industry executives and legends.
Elated guests enjoyed an unparalleled afternoon of fellowship and praise as scorching live musical performances paid homage to the honorees. BMI President & CEO Del Bryant also presented an award to esteemed songwriter Percy Bady for penning gospel's most-performed song of 2007, "Um Good." Recorded by Grammy Award-winner Smokie Norful, the tune is the first single from Norful's critically-acclaimed October 2007 release Life Changing. Top gospel artists J. Moss, Kelly Price and Dave Hollister performed harmonious tributes to contemporary and traditional gospel bridge builder Vanessa Bell Armstrong; legendary Mighty Clouds of Joy received rousing musical laudation through performances by Keith "Wonderboy" Johnson and Rance Allen, who was also joined on stage by the Mighty Clouds members for a jaw-dropping encore; and Pastor Marvin Winans received his musical salute courtesy of Grammy-nominated vocalist Anthony Hamilton, songwriter/musician Tommy Simms, 2007 Trailblazers honoree Fred Hammond and Lowell Pye. Performances by Marvin "Coconut" Winans, Jr., Dorinda Clark Cole and Smokie Norful created additional spine-tingling moments, while elite director Donald Lawrence led an all-star background choir.
BMI's Catherine Brewton praised the humbling dedication of the guests and honorees, saying, "BMI is extremely proud of you and all that you do to advance the Kingdom of God through gospel music. The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Pastor Marvin Winans: We come together to salute these trailblazers - pioneers who continue to bring us the truth of gospel music."