Beltway Buzz

2017 Reflections: Top Ten Gospel music stories around the Beltway

2017 was a great year for gospel artists and musicians in and around the Beltway in metropolitan Washington, D.C. As the year comes to a close we take time to reflect on the Top Ten gospel music stories in the DMV. There were many stories that were considered for 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:

Ronnette Harrison makes first international trip as solo artist: The lady with the golden voice and heavenly touch on the keys made her first international tour as a solo artist when she joined Jerome Bell at the Gospel En Karukera Festival in Guadaloupe. Judging by the Facebook posts, the folks in Guadeloupe learned what we’ve all known for so long, that Ronnette is a vocal force whose range knows no limits.

Richard Smallwood “Angels” gets sampled by Emcee N.I.C.E.: The D.C. area’s living legend has made countless songs that are timeless and have permeated churches, concert halls and other venues around the world. There is no mistaking the genius that is Richard Smallwood. This year, in addition to a collaboration with Robert E, Person, the Gospel great saw his song, “Angels” sampled by rap artist Emcee N.I.C.E. “I Got Angels” took the industry by storm, with chart-topping Billboard sales and airplay on the #1 Top Gospel Albums, #1 Gospel Album Sales, #1 Hot Single Sales, #1 Digital Song Sales charts and cracking the Top 20 on the Christian charts.

Ryan Vincent Ford & Ministry signs with MC Management: He’s been a DMV fixture for years and in much demand on the church circuit for his passionate musical style. This fall, Ryan Vincent Ford made a major move when he signed with MC Management; a move that hinted at things to come. Fans didn’t have to wait long to find out what lay ahead, when the singer announced he will release his first single, “Jesus the Same” in early 2018. The announcement was a welcome gift to fans who have been waiting for this moment to arrive.

Restine Jackson signs with Dream Gospel/The Platform Agency/Capitol Christian: Anyone who has seen Restine perform live, knows that he is a ball of energy. He throws himself unashamed into delivering the message in each song. He was recently signed to Dream Gospel/The Platform Agency/Capitol Christian, which will undoubtedly open major doors for him and unleash his relentless energy and passion to the work. Restine is set to release his debut EP, No Fear on Friday, February 2, 2018.

Theodore Thorpe III takes the helm as Artistic Director for WPAS Men, Women and Children of the Gospel Choir: Thorpe, a gifted maestro is at the helm of artistic direction for one of the most preeminent music organizations in metropolitan Washington, D.C. Washington Performing Arts is one of the leading presenters in the nation. Their performances include classical music, jazz, gospel, contemporary dance, international music and art forms, always presented with musical excellence.

Gospel radio pioneer, Ed Gerald honored at Bridging the Gap Conference: A pioneer in gospel music, Ed Gerald was at the Bridging the Gap conference held by industry insider, Jerome Bell. Mr. Gerald got his start at WTOP back in 1969. Before starting at WTOP-TV, Ed Gerald produced a television Gospel Music Special for a local affiliate television station; making appearances on “Mr. C Thing” with a one-hour Gospel presentation and on “Harambee”. His services became more in demand and he became more involved and conceived the idea of a Gospel TV Show. He was also a close associate of the great Thomas Dorsey.Ed Gerald (2nd from left) was honored for his work in gospel

Charles Butler drops significant pounds in weight loss pursuit: Charles Butler and his group, Trinity have seen their star rise over the years as they pursued and realized musical excellence. But, this year, Charles set out to pursue another goal. Partnering with Radio One DC and DeCalo Weight Loss, Wellness, and Pain Management Clinic, Charles set a goal to lose over 200 pounds. In December, he announced he had passed the 100-pound mark and had lost a total of 115 lbs. What a great year for Charles as he Trinity also made it to the final round of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards ballot in the category of Traditional Choir of the Year due to their phenomenal The Blood Experience album.

Robert E. Person launches radio show: This jazzy artist with a charismatic smile was busy in 2017. He did a collab with the great Richard Smallwood, released a couple of singles (“Let My People Live,” “My Favorite Things”) and launched a new radio show, “Soulful Sessions”. He capped off the year nicely with a Christmas special broadcast live on WBGR that included wonderful music and great interviews with many talented artists here in the DMV.

DMV Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals formed: The always thoughtful Phillip Carter launched the organization this fall. In an initial meeting this fall, Phillip Carter laid out his goals to educate artists and further educational opportunities for professionals, become actively aware and involved in advocacy and policy, mentorship, explore resources, and serve as a huge support base for events that happen in the DMV.

Henry Harris launches new nonprofit in the music industry: Maryland-based Strategic Music Partnerships (dba StrategicMPTM) is now officially a public charity. The status will broaden the organization’s access to resources and strengthen its ability to serve the music industry, collaborate to lend more weight to the community, strengthen music education and policy, and work with stakeholders who foster the integrity of networking. Harris has poured into the lives of many artists and the community over the years, and this new designation will serve to further enhance those efforts.

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of, founded in 2011. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites. Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.

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