The 58th annual Grammy Awards is already in our rear view mirror but before we do a driveby without looking at the carnage, I thought it would be great to recap the deserving Gospel nominees and winners in the Gospel categories who elevated and highlighted Kingdom music on the global stage.
BEST GOSPEL PERFORMANCE / SONG
Kirk Franklin – Wanna Be Happy? – Fo Yo Soul / RCA Inspiration (Winner): What hasn’t already been said about this melodic wordsmith extraordinaire? Kirk Franklin has a knack for churning out church music that everyone can love and appreciate. The Franklin formula could have come from coca cola, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” His lyrics and melodies are hard to forget. Franklin was a deserving Grammy recipient in this category.
Travis Greene – Intentional – RCA Inspiration (Nominee): Who would argue with this song getting the nod? The urban energy, the powerful production and Travis Greene‘s searing tenor combine to make this song intentionally good. Add to the melodic mix the message of hope and victory and you have yourself a winner…well, at least a nomination.
Israel & New Breed Featuring Yolanda Adams – How How Awesome Is Our God – RCA Inspiration (Nominee): This beautiful ballad that bears witness of an awesome God eloquently spoke the language of love in a way that everyone understood. Yolanda Adams was the perfect voice for this splendid selection written by Israel Houghton.
Anthony Brown & Group Therapy – Worth – Tyscot (Nominee): The scintillating song of the year that rose like a phoenix from the ashes is Anthony Brown‘s Worth. This captivating, awe-inspiring cry to the Lord is definitely worth a listen. It’s traction with the public made it a winner of multiple trophies at the 2016 Stellar Awards but just shy of a Grammy. However, a case could be made that this song was the people’s choice.
Brian Courtney Wilson – Worth Fighting For – Motown Gospel (Nominee): My personal favorite of the bunch was the inspirational anthem featuring Brian Courtney Wilson, penned by the maestro, Aaron Lindsey, called Worth Fighting For. This loveable tune deliberately pulls at your heartstrings using Brian’s soulful verse and a musical arrangement that has no bounds. This song leaves me with aches and pains every time.
BEST GOSPEL ALBUM
Israel & New Breed – Covered: Alive In Asia – RCA Inspiration (Winner): Israel Houghton has been producing world music that all nations can worship and praise to, for nearly a generation. It comes as no surprise that Alive In Asia would resonate with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The album’s international appeal and universal message of inspiration and celebration is a winner in any category.
Tasha Cobbs – One Place Live – Motown Gospel (Nominee): The reigning empress of worship continues to soar like an eagle with every release. Her latest offering, One Place Live, is an amazing follow-up to her Grammy award release, For Your Glory. Can Cobbs do any wrong? Not sure. But on One Place Live, she’s on a roll with songs like Jesus Saves, Immediately and Fill Me Up. Tasha will take you to the altar on this project.
Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music: Stage Two – Entertainment One (Nominee): My personal favorite of these worthy nominations is McReynolds‘ masterpiece, Life Music: Stage Two, an amazing Act II to his debut project, Life Music. The album is 100% new millennium ministry. It’s next generation, inspiration stuff for a sophisticated audience. Each track is carefully constructed with clever lyrics and premier production. This is a standout album.
Karen Clark Sheard – Destined To Win – Karew Records (Nominee): Finally Karen comes correct with an album her loyal fanbase can floss. The First Lady finds A-1 material from the meticulous Donald Lawrence on Destined To Win that defines and refines the qualities that make Karen Clark Sheard a vocal legend in this era.
Dorinda Clark-Cole – Living It – Entertainment One (Nominee): Carving out her own legacy as a formidable figure in Gospel music is Karen Clark Sheard‘s sister, the Rose Of Gospel, Evangelist Dorinda Clark-Cole and her affable album, Living It. This woman is church personified and more songs like Write My Name would have sealed the deal for the desirable Dorinda Clark-Cole.
BEST ROOTS GOSPEL ALBUM
The Fairfield Four – Still Rockin’ My Soul – Fairfield Four Records (Winner): Paying homage to the pioneering sound and spirit of Gospel music, this timeless Quartet from Nashville, TN has exceeded all expectations and snagged another Grammy for their certifiably sacred release called Still Rockin’ My Soul. Not bad for a Gospel group that’s 95 years old and still rockin’ even as death’s door keeps knockin’.
BEST CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM
Kirk Whalum – The Gospel According To Jazz, Chapter IV (Nominee): Kirk continues to stroll that fine line between Gospel and Jazz like a skilled tightrope walker. On his critically acclaimed record, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter IV,Whalum is unwavering in his message and mode, displaying a firm and familiar vernacular through instrumentation that Christians and club dwellers can both understand.