The 2023 2023 BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards were held March 30th at Flourish in Atlanta, GA. The awards show paid tribute to the best in the Gospel music community. BMI’s President & CEO, Mike O’Neill and Vice President, Catherine Brewton, hosted the event.
Dr. Bobby Jones was saluted as a Trailblazer of Gospel Music honoree for his legendary career, mentorship of the next generation, and his tireless contributions to the genre. His tribute performances, included performances by The Company singing “What a Friend,” followed by a spirited rendition of “Bring it to Jesus” by Beverly Crawford.
Tamela and David Mann were honored as BMI Trailblazers for their exceptional success as songwriters, artists and actors. Their musical tributes were performed by Zacardi Cortez and Anaysha Figueroa-Cooper singing “Now Behold the Lamb,” followed by Lisa Knowles-Smith who gave a powerful rendition of “Take Me to the King.” After accepting the award, Tamela Mann gave an impromptu performance of her mega-hit, “Change Me,” which spent 23 weeks at number one on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Chart.
The late legendary soul singer/songwriter Otis Redding was honored posthumously with four BMI Million-Air Awards to recognize his distinction of achieving the rare feat of surpassing one million broadcast performances on radio. Attending the ceremony were members of Redding’s family, including his wife Zelma and their daughter Karla Redding-Andrews, who accepted the honors on behalf of her father and the Otis Redding Foundation.
Finally, BMI gave the Gospel Song of the Year award to “Believe For It,” which was written by CeCe Winans and Mitch Wong (APRA). The song spent 12 weeks at the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Chart and garnered multiple accolades. BMI’s Gospel Songwriter of the Year was a tie between Dante Bowe and Jonathan McReynolds for each writing two of the most performed Gospel songs of the previous year. Bowe was honored for “Joyful” and “Promises” and McReynolds for “Brighter” and “Grace.” BMI’s Gospel Publisher of the Year went to Be Essential Songs for having award-winning songs “Brighter,” “Jireh,” “Promises” and “Something Has to Break,” among its repertoire.
Additional performances of the event included a moving tribute to the late singer/producer/choir director Kevin Lemons who passed away earlier this year. Lemons was known for his work with Donald Lawrence and the choir Higher Calling. Other award-winning songs performed throughout the evening included “Just Like God” by Evvie McKinney, “Great” by Kelontae Gavin and “Wonderful is Your Name” by Melvin Crispell.
For more information on the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards, visit www.bmi.com/genres/gospel.