Beltway Buzz

Reflections: The Top 10 Gospel Music Stories in the DMV

Mike McCoy and Voices United sing "Thank You"

2023 has come to a close, but not without some stories that we will remember after the year has gone. Here’s a look at our Top 10.

Richard Smallwood Honored with Spectacular Tribute. The top story of this year goes to the DMV tribute to its own living legend. Richard Smallwood was honored with a display of musical artistry from the outsized amount of talent residing right in the DMV. The production level executed by producer Jared Sawyers mirrored the level of quality as those seen in Grammy awards are similar productions. The concert was streamed and currently has 330,000 views and continues to spark conversation.

Roderick Giles & Grace Travels to Europe. The group has had a banner year traveling internationally for their 2023 European Tour, with stops that included Italy, the Czech Republic and more. Visit Giles’ Facebook page for photos and videos of the tour. The group has had a banner year traveling internationally for their  2023 European Tour, with stops that included  Italy, the Czech Republic, and more. Visit Giles’ Facebook page for photos and videos of the tour.

Roderick Giles and Grace sold-out show in sold out show in Legnago, Italy

Patrick D. McCoy takes on a new role. Our friend and supporter, Patrick D. McCoy, made major moves this year. He took the helm as Development and Communications Manager at the prestigious Washington Conservatory of Music. Additionally, Patrick was invited to be a guest conductor at Carnegie Hall under the backing of MidAmerica Productions for “A Choral Tapestry-Celebrating the Music of Undine Smith Moore.”

Journalist and multi-hyphenate Patrick D. McCoy

Washington Douglass Chorale debuts. Nolan Williams, in collaboration with Scott Tucker held their inaugural concert this month. The debut received rave reviews from The Washington Post and Across the Arts with Patrick. D. McCoy.

Pastor Jerome Bell receives pastoral appointment. Gospel music industry insider Jerome Bell added a new title to his moniker. The industry mainstay became pastor of Grace Memorial on December 2. The event was attended by many ecclesiastical luminaries and well-wishers.

Ginger on Sax launches talks gospel show. The skilled saxophonist and photographer (GingerSnapsYourImage) threw her hat back in the ring and launched The Ginger on Sax Show. The show features interviews with guests and musical performances. Catch an episode here.

Jimmy Russell leaves the DMV. The gospel community in the DMV said see you later to Jimmy Russell as he and his wife Toni relocated to Georgia. The founder of Jimmy Russell and Because of Christ (BOC) is a longtime supporter of all artists in the DMV and has left a void. The gospel community came out to wish him well and sing his praise. To watch the event, click here.

Phillip Carter launches Christian Online New Music Forum. The Stellar Award winner launched a forum to introduce new music that can be used for worship. The forum gives songwriters a bigger platform to share their music with a wider audience. Watch October’s session here.

Bowie State University Choir Soars with Handel’s Messiah. Director Brandon Jamal Felder wowed the standing-room-only crowd with an exceptional choir and an amazing lineup of featured guests. Marvin M. Myer had a star turn with “Ye People Rend Your Heart.”

Marcus and Carolina Release New Music. After some time away, the worship artist released “Our King.” The album contains powerful declarations, including the first cut, “Consuming Flame.”

Beyond the music
Jawn Murray continues to make the DMV community product. Having roots in the gospel community, he has soared in his entertainment career. As producer of the Sherri Show, he saw the popular show renewed for the 2024-2025 season.

We lost many people in 2023. It seems like some were gone too soon. Here is a brief look at a few that transitioned to their reward.

Aaron Spears passed away at 47. The DMV and the world lost a great drummer and individual when Aaron Spears passed away. His homegoing was attended by so many who recalled a kind man who exuded positivity and was a family man. Spears was the drummer at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, the site of his homegoing. His impact reverberated around the world and many luminaries attended, even Usher. Spears received a Grammy nomination for his work on Ushers, “Confessions” album.

Singer Jennifer Hines passed away. Hines was a founding member of Steve Key and Company. She lost her battle with cancer in November, leaving a lasting impact on the group.

Elsewhere in the gospel industry:

Kevin Lemons passed away at 44. The industry was rocked when word came that Lemons passed away in January. According to a press release, Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling was founded when Kevin Lemon and a group of young singers came together for a special music event created by Lemon’s father. Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling is a 100-member ensemble with 50 Atlanta-based singers and 50 additional singers from California, Virginia, the DMV area, New York, New Orleans, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and Alabama.

C. Ashley Brown Lawrence dies after a courageous fight. Well-known among fans for her powerful voice, the singer passed away after battling a serious health issue. Lawrence had the opportunity to perform her single “I’ve Got the Victory” at the Stellar Awards.

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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