Beltway Buzz

2021: A look back at noteworthy stories in the DMV

2021 is on its way out, and although the pandemic is still hanging around, a few memorable events took place this year. Here’s a look:

Jerome Bell Named Ambassador for National Women’s Health Week. Gospel music industry insider, recording artist, and minister Rev. Dr. Jerome Allen Bell took on a pivotal role that impacts women.  The week serves as a reminder for women and girls, especially during the outbreak of COVID-19, to make their health a priority and take care of themselves.

St. Augustine Gospel Choir performs at White House during Black History Month. The highly acclaimed choir had the honor of singing a stirring rendition of the “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem at the White House. The group has performed internationally and even sang for Pope St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica, so thier appearance has added one more feather to its musical cap.

Transformation Music Releases Debut Single. The praise & worship team of Transformation Christian Fellowship (TCF) in Clarksville, MD, released its first music single, “Be Exalted”. The special music release also commemorated the 5th year church anniversary of Transformation Christian Fellowship.

Several artists release new music. Many artists in the DMV released new music into the atmosphere, including Ryan Vincent Ford, Chester Burke, Cecil Thorton, Jimmy Russell, the IGAA Vol. 1 & 2.

Jacquie Gales Webb and Tracy Morgan appear on WHUR anniversary mural. 96.3 WHUR marked 50 years of excellence in broadcasting and community service with a special mural unveiling outside Ben’s Chili Bowl. The mural included DMV and national broadcast icons Jacquie Gales Webb and Tracy Morgan. A well-deserved honor for two of the finest in the industry!

DRK2LGHT takes the industry by storm. The trio DRK 2 LGHT, which boasts more than 18 years of music between them,  cracked the sky in 2021. Javon Inman, Rob Mercer, and C.D. Porter saw their song, ‘Fix My Heart,’ skyrocket on the gospel indicator chart. They also released the energetic, feel-good music video of the song. Among their many accolades was the 2021 WAMMIE Award winners for Best Gospel/Inspirational Artist/Group. They have also been nominated for 2022 WAMMIE.

Phillip Carter co-founder of IGAAPhillip Carter goes all in to bring DMV music to the masses. After a stellar career as an education professional, Carter stepped away from the classroom and into a full-time music entrepreneurship.   The  Hymns with Philip Carter has amassed more than 100,000 followers. Carter makes full use of his platform to spotlight DMV artists to a broader audience and have meaningful conversations with heroes and legends in the gospel industry.

Strong Tower drops Debut Album. Richard Davis produced a new album, WAVES, for his church Strong Tower, and the concert release delivered songs that are sure to last in the annals of worship.

In Memoriam: We also say goodbye to some of those who left us this year.

Lee Williams, the leader and founder of the award-winning Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC’s, has died. He was 75. Known for his deep baritone voice and cool stoic style, Williams and the group performed for decades before finding national success in the 1990s with their hit, “I’ve Learned to Lean'”

Shawn McLemore died at age 54 in October after an extended illness. McLemore had a stellar music and entertainment career, performed with many top gospel artists, and had several gospel hits. He delivered hit albums that included Wait On Him, Any Minute Now and starred in the film Colors with Robert Duval and Sean Penn.


Andrea Marie Brown of the Chicago-based gospel act, The Brown Sisters of Chicago, passed away on September 30, 2021, of COVID-19. The group shot to fame in the gospel world with their self-titled 2009 debut album that featured “Awesome God,” a Billboard Top 20 radio single.

Christian singer CarmanCarman. After a 40-year career in Christian music, Carman died due to complications from surgery at age 65. He was nominated for four Grammys, named Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year in 1990 and 1992, and sold more than 10 million albums.


Pervis Staples. A member of the famed Staples Singers, the singer died at home May 6 at 85. Pervis left the group in 1968 and began to manage the band that would later be known as the Emotions. He and The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.


These are just a few of the happenings in 2021. If you know of any others that we didn’t capture, drop them in the comments.

Have a great 2022!



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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