2012 was an exciting year in the world of gospel music for D.C. area artists. Many new artists burst onto the scene and several artists made major moves. The industry was also impacted by events that occurred outside the area, but resonated strongly. Here is a look in words and pictures at some of the happenings that impacted those in the D.C. area gospel music community.
There were several CD releases this year. They included Byron Cage, Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy, Jason Nelson, Stephen Hurd, Tre’ Thomas, Nicois Harris, CD Porter, Sean Tillery, Patrick Lundy, Rob Mercer, Pastor Jerome Bell, and many more. Earnest Pugh released a Christmas album that entered in the top 10 and has become the most popular Christmas album by a gospel artist this season. Stellar Award winner Phillip Carter spearheaded the release of “DC Gospel Artists United: Together in Unity.”
Several artists received awards in 2012. Richard Smallwood won the Dove Award for Traditional Album of the Year for “Promises.” Y’Anna Crawley walked away with the Best New Artist Award at the Stellar Awards. The Gospel Blue M.I.C. Awards shined the spotlight on many independent artists. Javon Inman and Robert E. Person were among those who walked away with wins and Theresa Pinkney received a special award of recognition. CJB Radio (Simone Henry/Kevin James) took home the win for Internet Gospel Radio Station of the Year. There were many other awards too numerous to mention that D.C. area artists took home this year.
Anthony Brown signed with Tyscot Records and his self-titled album debuted in the Top Ten. Jonathan Nelson signed with Karen Clark Sheard’s Karew Records. Charles Butler and Trinity signed to EPM Music Group and plan to release a CD in February. Gerald Scott and Earl Bynum signed with Habakkuk Music. Javon Inman got a distribution deal with Central South Distribution and Robert E. Person received a deal with New Day Distribution. Earnest Pugh proved to be a prolific businessman as he not only signed Butler but Keith Williams, Chrystal Rucker and Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis as well.
The loss of those in the industry has no geographical boundaries. The Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown passed away and there was mourning through D.C. and beyond. Music icon Whitney Houston’s death was felt around the world and her connection to D.C. was revealed. The unexpected death of Sunday Best alum, Dontavies Boatwright was felt throughout the industry. Other passings include gospel great and former Caravans singer Inez Andrews, Barbara Best of the BL&S Singers, Gabriel Hardeman, Maurice Culpepper, David Peaston, Willa Ward and famed drummer Marvin McQuitty.
See extensive photo gallery at DC Gospel Music Examiner’s Facebook page.
Also of note
Byron Cage turned 50 and was feted with a gospel concert at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church that included Leandria Johnson singing a memorable, stylized rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Musician/journalist Patrick D. McCoy earned his own column “Perfect Pitch” in Washington Life Magazine and was named as one of Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund’s Forty under 40 honorees. Recording artist Tanya Dallas Lewis’ radio show, “The Music Box” was picked up by several stations and also experienced record listenership this year. Dr. Emory Andrews received the Newsome Award.
The Gospel Music Heritage Foundation outgrew the Kennedy Center and moved their musical celebration for Gospel Music Heritage Month to the Warner Theater which was filled to capacity. Carlton Burgess convened The inaugural Hymn Lovers Conference. The Thomas Dorsey Convention of Choirs and Choruses was held in Washington, D.C. ECMA took gospel to the streets with held a well-received lunch-time concert on L’Enfant Plaza. Lisa Gilliam held “Celebrate Life” which sought to call attention to depression and suicide. The Howard Gospel Choir became a popular fixture at The Hamilton for Gospel Brunch on many Sundays during the year.