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35th Anniversary Stellar Gospel Music Awards: Winners

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JJ HAIRSTON
Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin – Photography by GIP III, Courtesy of CCP

*Gospel icon Kirk Franklin was the top winner at the 35th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards Sunday night. 

The event, hosted by Franklin, Jonathan McReynolds, and Koryn Hawthorne, awarded trophies in 28 categories for the year’s best performances in the genre — including six statues presented to the night’s big winner, Kirk Franklin.

The ceremony also featured moving tributes honoring Rep. John Lewis and COVID-19 First Responders to stirring songs of inspiration, power and praise, and epic performances by Tamela Mann, CeCe Winans, Anthony Brown, James Fortune, Travis Greene, Kierra Sheard, Marvin Sapp, Tye Tribbett and more. 

READ MORE: Singer Jaheim Shows Support for Trump in New Video: ‘He’s Saved A Lot of People’ / WATCH

KORYN HAWTHORNE

KORYN HAWTHORNE – Photography by GIP III, Courtesy of CCP

Here’s more from the press release:

Franklin’s work on Long Live Love earned him five Stellar Awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, and Contemporary Album of the Year. Franklin earned an additional Song of the Year trophy for his work on “Love Theory.” Gospel great Donald Lawrence presents the Tri-City Singers received four Stellar Awards for work on the Goshen project including Choir of the Year and Contemporary Choir of the Year, as well as Song of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Single or Performance of the Year for “Deliver Me (This is My Exodus).” Gospel legend John P. Kee’s I Made It Out delivered three Stellar Awards for Traditional Male Vocalist, Traditional Album of the Year and Traditional Choir of the Year.

Singer/songwriter Tasha Cobbs Leonard garnered two trophies for Artist of the Year and Contemporary Female Vocalist of the Year for her project Heart, Passion, Pursuit, while Le’Andria Johnson earned two for her work on Donald Lawrence’s project, Goshen in the categories Albertina Walker Female Vocalist of the Year Award and the Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year. The Walls Group received two statues for Duo Group of the Year and Contemporary Duo Group of the Year for their album Friend in Me, along with newcomer Pastor Mike Jr. who took home a pair of Stellar Awards for New Artist of the Year and Rap/Hip Hop Gospel Album of the Year for his work on Live Free. Kurt Carr received two Stellar awards, one as an artist (Traditional Duo/Chorus Group of the Year) and another for Recorded Music Packaging of the Year for the Bless Somebody Else project.

Rounding out the night with one Stellar Award each were JJ Hairston (Praise and Worship Album of the Year), Ben Tankard (Instrumental Album of the Year), Gospel Kids (Youth Project of the Year), Keith Wonderboy Johnson (Quartet of the Year) and Greenleaf; Season 3 (Special Event Album of the Year).

Top winners of the night: 

  • Kirk Franklin – 6
  • Donald Lawrence – 4
  • John P. Kee – 3
  • Kurt Carr – 3
  • Tasha Cobbs Leonard – 2
  • Le’Andria Johnson – 2
  • The Walls Group – 2
  • Pastor Mike Jr. – 2

The 2020 Stellar Awards will will replay August 29 –September 27 on BET.

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Black Celebrity Gossip - Gossip

Aaliyah Book Titled ‘Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah’ Dropping in 2021

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'Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah' Book
'Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah' Book

Book Cover Provided by Atria Books / Simon & Schuster

*Christmas has come early for Aaliyah fans, as an upcoming book has been announced that will chronicle her life and career. 

According to Billboard, “Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah” will drop Aug. 17, 2021, under Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. 

Written by journalist and author Kathy Iandoli, the title “will focus on the span of Aaliyah’s life and career — from her earliest beginnings singing in Detroit all the way through to her game-changing musical era with Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and the late Static Major,” revealed in a press release. “The book also includes a deep dive into her tumultuously abusive entanglement with R. Kelly and an intense investigation on the crash that ended her life.” 

Says Iandoli: “I wrote this book as an Aaliyah fan. This is for all of us who for the last twenty years can spot her influence everywhere, while wishing she was still here. I left no stone unturned, and I hope I’ve added to her legacy properly.”

READ MORE: Aubrey O’Day Takes Aims at Trump Family, Claims Ivanka is a Lesbian

News of the book follows confirmation from Aaliyah’s estate that they are bringing her music to streaming services.

“To our loyal fans: We are excited to announce that communication has commenced between the estate and various record labels about the status of Aaliyah’s music catalogue, as well as its availability on streaming platforms in the near future,” read the announcement from Aaliyah’s Twitter account. “Thank you for your continued love and support. More updates to come!”

Check out the official announcement via the Twitter embed above.

In a 2016 story from Complex on the singer’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who owns her catalog under his Blackground Records label, writer Stephen Witt said of the absence of Aaliyah’s music on the internet,  “Aaliyah’s internet absence is different—there’s no logic to it. It’s not an artistic statement or a play for more money, and there’s no dedicated Aaliyah-only streaming service in the works.”

Witt continued, “Instead, there’s a single, stubborn man, sitting on a catalog that includes almost all of her most famous work. … The situation puts her entire musical legacy at risk of fading from memory. Year by year, streaming accounts for a greater portion of an artist’s visibility and reverence among the next generation of listeners. And he refuses to budge.”

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JAY-Z: Rapper Launches ‘Monogram’ Cannabis Line

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jay-z

Jay-Z

*Jay-Z announced Friday that he is launching his first line of cannabis called Monogram in a joint venture with California-based weed company Caliva.

Monogram debuted its website and Instagram account Friday, providing fans with a glimpse of the product.

According to a press release, Monogram aims to “redefine what cannabis means to consumers today,” with “careful strain selection, meticulous cultivation practices and uncompromising quality.” 

Jay-Z joined Caliva as Chief Brand Strategist last July as part of a multi-year partnership.

The rapper detailed his role in a statement, noting that he will help the company with creative decisions, outreach efforts and strategy — focusing on the social justice issues surrounding legalization, Rolling Stone reported. 

READ MORE: Jay Z Allegedly Sold Kanye’s Masters to Get His Own Masters Back

Per a statement, Jay’s efforts will include “advocacy, job training and overall employee and workforce development.”

“Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level,” the hip-hop star said in a statement at the time. “With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos make them the best partners for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way.”

After conducting an extensive search to find the perfect partner in the cannabis industry, Jay-Z reached out to Caliva. 

“For Jay-Z to seek out Caliva as a partner is humbling and confirms our mission of being the most trusted name in cannabis,” says Caliva CEO, Dennis O’Malley. “To find that we were in complete alignment around our values and ethos was just a home run. We believe this partnership is unparalleled in this or any business and we could not be more pleased to be working with him and have him as our Chief Brand Strategist.”

Jigga is the latest rapper to enter the legal marijuana business. He joins the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Freddie Gibbs and Juicy J and Cypress Hill’s B-Real. 

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Viola Davis Remembers ‘My Baby’ Chadwick Boseman at ‘Ma Rainey’ Event

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Viola Davis

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Chadwick Boseman's Final Movie - viola davis

*Netflix dropped the first trailer for the upcoming “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Monday, along with a conversation with star Viola Davis and director George C. Wolfe

The film is based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from producer Denzel Washington

The official synopsis from Netflix reads; “Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis).”  The late Chadwick Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee. 

Boseman died in August after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

During the “Ma Rainey” preview event this week, Davis described the “Black Panther” star as the epitome of “an artist.”

“That’s just who he was,” she said, reminding viewers she played his mother in “Get On Up.”

“Chadwick is my baby,” said Davis. 

READ MORE: First Look at Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in Netflix’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Davis went on to say, “We are in the business, that a lot of times people have business conversations that masquerade themselves as artistic conversations. They don’t understand the difference between getting on set and demanding their vegan food being brought to them or their vegetarian dishes, or the dietary concerns, having that car ready. They don’t know the difference between that and making choices as an actor and getting down and dirty and doing the work and leaving your ego and your vanity at the door. He loved it. He demanded it.” she added, “He demanded it in every single way.”

Wolfe said of casting Boseman, “Chadwick put his entire being into Levee and Levee demands that because of the scale of the role. He put every ounce of his heart and passion into it.”

Davis also praised Washington for honoring Wilson’s legacy. The actor also produced  “Fences” and plans to bring nine of Wilson’s plays to the small screen.

“August lets us talk as people of color. I think other people may look at it and say, ‘Why do they go on and on and on?’ My whole thing is why not? We have a lot to say. There has been a muzzle placed on those for so long. This work has got to be in the hands of a great artist,” Davis said.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” premieres Dec. 18 on Netflix.

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