A memoir, new artists taking the stage, an international presence and more. Here’s a look at the top gospel stories of 2019 in the DMV, from our vantage point:
Richard Smallwood releases highly anticipated autobiography– The multiple award-winning gospel legend released his memoir, Total Praise: The Autobiography, in November. The book is a very transparent look at the artist. It not only provides glimpses into the music industry, it is also a foray into issues of love, loss, grief, and poignantly chronicles his struggles with depression. It’s a must read!
Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration debuts on Capitol Hill– This year’s Evolution of Gospel concert took place in an intimate setting on Capitol Hill, marking a historic moment for the event. The evening was filled with song as usual, only this time there were many members of Congress present to witness the lasting impact of gospel music. There were performance by Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music, Anthony Brown & group therAPy, Jason Nelson and more. The evening was masterfully crafted by Congresswoman Jackson Lee and DC Host Committee Ron Magnus and dedicated volunteers. No doubt this foray into the hallowed halls of the Capitol won’t be soon forgotten as gospel music continues leave its indelible mark wherever it goes.
Anthony Brown & group therAPy “Second Wind” recording – Although he’s a Baltimore native, Brown serves as the Assistant Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, here in the DMV. It was there that he and group therAPy held their phenomenal live recording, “Second Wind” before a filled-to-capacity audience. It featured all new compositions and performances from several gospel artists, including Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Erica Campbell, Kelontae Gavin and Jonathan McReynolds. The group also ranked on Billboard as the second most popular group or duo of the year and they were the tenth most popular overall gospel act of the year.
Phillip Carter releases first international project. The always versatile Stellar Award winner released his first international project, “Live in Suwalki Poland.” It was a very busy year for Carter who made the DMV Fellowship more inclusive by expanding gatherings to Fredericksburg, Va and Fairfax with Jarvis Smith. He also held two DMV banquets and a plethora of other events throughout the year, solidifying Carter as a force to be reckoned with in keeping independent gospels artists in the forefront and also offering them a platform to share their gifts.
Javon Inman releases new single-After several years in the gospel industry with many songs under his belt, singer and songwriter Javon Inman released his new up-tempo and heartfelt single, “Today Is My Day.” The song is a candid exploration of his journey in the genre, its ups and downs and acknowledges his growth through that process. The song was well-received and has been getting airplay.
Darnell Moore tours in Italy-After touring with other artists, Darnell Moore traveled to Italy as the featured artist. He and his singers are on the “Hosanna in Italy” International Tour. The tour comes ahead of the release of his album, “Hosanna ”on January 1, 2020.
Andrea René Williams launches singing career– A well-established and respected publicist, Andrea René Williams switched gears and let the world know she is also a singer, songwriter and musician. A producer and engineer as well, she released a brand new instrumental single, “Won’t Work”. Her debut vocal single, “Count It As Done” is a distinctive ballad that touches the heart.
Jerome Bell breaks into industry as a singer. Industry insider Bell released his debut single, “Pass Me Not (Live).” His entry into the gospel music stage may come as a surprise to some, but Bell has been singing all his life. This year he has come full circle by releasing his musical gifts to the world.
Robert E. Person Soulful Sessions Radio Show expands to two hours –Started in 2017 as a 30-minute segment, the Soulful Sessions Radio Show has grown its audience consistently over the past two years. In November, Robert E. Person celebrated the show’s 100th episode. Not only that, the show got the green light to expand to two hours. This is no small feat considering that Person’s singing career keeps him pretty busy. His industry savvy helps him play and interview today’s top Gospel, Jazz, and Urban inspirational hits and artists on his show.
Urban One Honors celebrates 40 years of Radio One-The annual Urban One Honors was held at MGM National Harbor in December. The prestigious event celebrated the 40-year legacy of Radio One. Some of the biggest names in film, television, and music gathered for a star-studded affair were on hand as Urban One Founder and Chairwoman Cathy Hughes and actor Chris Tucker served as hosts. Radio One is responsible for helping the careers of many gospel through its gospel radio stations, including Praise 104.1.
One to watch
Chester Burke, Jr. and Company: This exciting group seemed to be everywhere this year. One of the highlights came in November when they provided background vocals for the Commissioned Reunion Tour at the MGM National Theatre. This is a group that’s on the rise, not only for their amazing vocals, but also their stunning choreography. Their latest single, “Great is the Lord,” featuring Isaiah Thomas is worth adding to any playlist.