It appears that 2016 was another successful year for gospel artists and musicians in and around the Beltway in metropolitan Washington, D.C. In this article, PositivelyGospel.com reflects on the Top Ten gospel music stories in the area. There are certainly many stories that could have made the list, but we hope this article conveys the depth, breadth and diversity of the gospel music talent nestled in Washington, D.C. Here’s the top ten Gospel music stories, as we see it, in and around the Beltway:
‘Stellarbration’ Honors Hometown Heroes- After winning 10 Stellar Awards, Anthony Brown, a Baltimore native and Assistant Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Glenarden (FBCG)held the “Stellarbration”. Many came expecting to celebrate Anthony Brown & group therAPy on their ten wins, but they got more than that. Dubbed, ‘Celebrating Hometown Heroes,” Brown turned the tables and instead of taking accolades himself, he humbly gave back by honoring those who are making a difference in the DMV and making their mark musically. It was a shining example of unity and unselfishness.
10-time Stellar winners Anthony Brown & group therAPy perform during their “Stellarbration”
Jeremiah Hicks Steps Center Stage- The in-demand background vocalist gave fans what they’d long hoped for: he released his debut album. Songs like “Better,” ”Jesus,” and “Selah” are sure to make many playlists. In a recap, PositivelyGospel.com wrote about the concert, “Jeremiah Hicks is that kind of Levite, a singer who leaves it all on the threshing floor to a God that he unashamedly adores. A Worship Heart is Hicks’ gift to listeners, wrapped in oil.”
Jeremiah Hicks gave a brekout performance during his CD release
Daniel Weatherspoon Jazzes it Up. – The Grammy-winning musician, composer, songwriter, and music director at FBCG, released his first Jazz project that offered personal insight into a deeply expressive musician. The Langley Park Project debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Album and also entered the Top Jazz Album Chart at Number 6.
Journalist Patrick D. McCoy Returns Triumphant to Alma Mater. Virginia State University alumnus Patrick D. McCoy, who is the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine. returned to the world of academia to make a presentation to the Department of Music called “Final Movement: When the Music Stops, What’s Next?” McCoy shared the story of how he transitioned into music journalism.
Jonre Music Group Expands. Lyn Johnson, CEO and founder of the brand new Christian record label, Jonre Music Group (JMG), has created an innovative and cutting edge record company for musicians. Richard T. Davis was named VP of Label Operations and Director of A&R and the label is experiencing rapid expansion. In May, renowned inspirational saxophonist Merlon Devine inked a record deal with the new record label. In September, Mo’ Horns joined the JMG family. In December, the label welcomed string arranger and composer, Nicole Neely. To top it all off, Richard Davis released his Christmas single, “Christmas Gift.”
Gospel Heritage comes to the DMV: Gospel Heritage founder Dr. Teresa E Hairston joined Regional Director Pastor Jerome Allen Bell for a night of exhortation and songs that celebrated gospel music. The well-attended, grand gathering included pastors, musicians, gospel artists, praise and worship leaders and those who have a deep appreciation for the genre.
Pastor Demery, Bishop Owens, Pastor Bell, Dr. Teresa Hairston, Pastor Browning
We Are Here Tour: Still riding a wave of success, Anthony Brown & group therAPy will join Travis Greene and Jonathan McReynolds for The Worship Tour: We Are Here. The new generation of artists are making a big splash by teaming with top promoter, Live Nation. The tour makes a stop in D.C. on March 4 at The Warner Theatre.
Jonathan McReynolds, Travis Greene and Anthony Brown
Blues Alley Goes Gospel: Gospel artists took the good news to the famed Blues Alley in Washington D.C. this year. Ronnette Harrison, Robert E. Person and Roderick Giles & Grace were some of the gifted artists that hit the stage spreading the message outside the four walls. Saxophonist Merlon Devine actually made two appearances, with his most recent performance taking place this December.
Merlon Devine and Rocquelle Dvine(ecenter) with Jonre Music Group’s Ceo Lyn Johnson and Richard Davis, A&R Director at Blues Alley
Alfred Street Baptist Church Hosts Christmas Concert at Kennedy Center: Founded by slaves in 1803, the Alfred Street Baptist Church made history when they chose the Kennedy Center to hold their annual Music and Worship Arts Ministry Christmas concert. The sold-out event was filled with wonderful music, spoken word and dramatizations.
Alfred Street Baptist Church performed their Christmas concert before a sold-out crowd
Howard University Gospel Choir Performs at Kennedy Center Honors: 2016 has been a great year for the Howard Gospel Choir. The choir celebrated the release of their latest album, Glorious God and continued to tour internationally. In December, the group backed country singer Garth Brooks as he paid tribute to honoree James Taylor during the Kennedy Center Honors. They returned to the stage later with Bonnie Raitt and Andra Day to pay tribute to the great Mavis Staples.
Bonnie Raitt and Andra Day perform with the Howard Gospel Choir at The Kennedy Center
It will be exciting to see what 2017 has in store for the Beltway. Meanwhile, here are a few other memorable moments from 2016. Click on the links to learn more.
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