Gospel singers

Special to The Miami Times

Almost every church has powerful singers who, if all things were equal, could make it as a national recording artists. With great anointing, they lead us all into praise and worship. Their voices make a joyful noise to the Lord while moving some to tears.

Each and every week, these singers minister through music. Some have released CDs that have made a local buzz. Others are known for the songs they have sung in churches around the community. For the past 14 years, the South Florida Gospel Music Awards (SFGMA) has recognized many of these singers and several others who have played a major part in gospel music locally.

On Oct. 17-19, the 2019 SFGMA show and celebration will take place in Fort Lauderdale for the first time, after being held in West Palm Beach in the past. The event was created in 2004 by the late Peppi Hendrix to give accolades to hard-working, dedicated gospel musicians who, otherwise, would be deemed the unsung heroes in the music industry.

When Hendrix died in 2018, Lynn Brown, president of the Broward Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals, picked up the mantle and continued the show. She is now the CEO of SFGMA.

“I encourage everyone to attend to celebrate the music one loves, to support the local Gospel singers, and to invite the non-churchgoing community to come out and enjoy our music,” said Brown.

When talented gospel artists participate in the awards show they are given a larger platform to encourage and uplift more people through song, according to Brown.

The nominees and participants include hundreds of local gospel artists and other church leaders, including honors award recipients: Micah Lee, recipient of the Piaget Peppi Hendrix Award; Dwight D. Moment Sr., recipient of the Marc Cooper Living Legacy Award; James Wright, recipient of the William Ponch Orange Living Legacy Award; and Devon Griffin, recipient of the Ricky Derae Living Legacy Award.

The award show categories include: Artist of the year, Song of The Year, Quartet of the Year, Choir of The Year, Choir Director of the Year, Rap/Hip Hop Artist of The Year, Radio Station of the Year, Pastor of the Year and many others.

The three-day celebration also includes opportunities to help the artists get to the next level. Hosts are WMBM on-air personality MJ Smith and gospel recording artist Elaine D. Nelson.

On Thursday, there will be a networking event and an artist showcase from 5:30 p.m. An industry panel will take place on Friday at 8:30 a.m., during which gospel music experts will share informative tips with local artists. The panel will include Logan H. Westbrooks, a 50-year music executive who has helped garner more than 50 gold and 25 platinum records. 

On Saturday, the awards show will take place from 3 with red carpet arrivals. Ben Tankard, an American gospel/smooth jazz musician, producer, reality-tv Dad, author and motivational speaker from Daytona Beach, is scheduled to perform. His instruments include the synthesizer, piano, tuba, drums, guitar, and percussion. Often referred to as the "Godfather of Gospel/Jazz,” his instrumental music has bridged the gap between two genres and charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz and Gospel charts.

The three-day ticket packages range from $65-$105, while the award show tickets range from $25-$35. The preshow on Friday night will be free.

Visit sfgma.org for more information or call SFGMA organizers at 954-546-9006 or email info@sfgma.com.

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