BMI recognized the contributions of gospel pioneers Donnie McClurkin and Andraé Crouch at the 11th Annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards Luncheon Friday, January 15 in Nashville. Hosted by BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton, the invitation-only celebration attracted gospel music’s premier songwriters, recording artists and music industry executives, as well as the genre’s legends. The ceremony was also recorded live, and will be broadcast as a special on the Gospel Music Channel later this year.
Catherine Brewton was also joined by Dorinda Clark Cole to present an award for Most Performed Gospel Song of the Year to esteemed songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Derrick Starks in recognition of his hit composition “Take It Back,” the title track of Clark Cole’s latest critically acclaimed album.
Byron Cage hosted the tribute to Donnie McClurkin, which featured inspired live performances by gospel powerhouses including Latice Crawford, Micah Stampley, Pastor Marvin Winans, and Yolanda Adams, who was joined by McClurkin for a rousing rendition of “We Fall Down.”
Yolanda Adams also hosted the musical homage to Andraé Crouch. Spine-tingling performances were delivered by stars including Adams, CeCe Winans, TaTa Vega, Mary Mary, Pastor Marvin Winans, and Dorinda Clark Cole, who joined Vega for a jaw-dropping finale.
A devoted pupil of gospel legends, Donnie McClurkin has done more than admire the giants: He has become one himself. The two-time Grammy winner is one of the genre’s finest producers, beloved vocalists, and most inspiring communicators. A discerning songwriter, he has composed a rich catalog of worship songs, including BMI Christian Award winners “I’m Walking” and “That’s What I Believe,” while he has also collected a trove of Dove, Stellar and other prestigious honors, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Artist. He released a critically acclaimed new collection entitled We Are All One (Live in Detroit) in March 2009, and in addition to garnering a 2010 Stellar Award nomination for Traditional Male of the Year, he will co-host the Stellar Awards ceremony with fellow BMI trendsetters Kirk Franklin and Vickie Winans. For McClurkin, being honored alongside the genre-shaping Andraé Crouch is a deeply personal accomplishment: He fondly refers to Crouch as his mentor.
Eight-time Grammy winner Andraé Crouch is a definitive pioneer. One of the most influential molders of contemporary gospel music, Crouch combines the power of the traditional with the immediacy of the contemporary. His work with The Disciples and later, as a solo artist, is legendary, and as a songwriter, he is behind classics, including “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Through It All,” “Bless His Holy Name,” and “My Tribute,” which has been performed by more than 600 artists all over the world. He has collected a host of Dove and Stellar Awards. In addition to working with pop icons including Madonna, Diana Ross, and Elton John, Crouch contributed songs to films including The Color Purple and The Lion King. The vocal arranger for Michael Jackson’s smash “Man in the Mirror” and the star’s Invincible album, Crouch also penned “You Will Be There,” featured in the film Free Willy. A member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, he became the only living gospel artist to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004, and the following year, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural NARAS Salute to Gospel Music.
Pictured above are Donnie McClurkin and Andraé Crouch