July 16, 2012
By Hasan James
Photography by Nyesha Clark- Young and DJ Eason
For the 45th time, this past weekend ended a week long chain of events which included: musicals, workshops, events, artist showcases, the preached word and so much more. Nashville (Music City), was the backdrop for this year’s Gospel Music Workshop of America, hosted at the opulent Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
The week kicked off with “GMWA Serves”, which consisted of a day of service in the city of Nashville, dedicated to the memory of the Godfather of Gospel Music, Rev. Timothy Wright. After an overwhelming success over the past three years in Cincinnati, Ohio and Tampa Florida “GMWA SERVES” continues with great expectation to help hundreds in need in the city of Nashville. GMWA SERVES is GMWA’s answer to the call of President Barack Obama, through legislation by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, to organize America for national community Service. Ten local organizations have been chosen to receive support through volunteering at- at least 150 volunteer GMWA Ambassadors for what Nashville Mayor Karl Dean dubbed “GMWA Serves Nashville Community Service Day.”
The Firm Artist Management’s President and CEO, Shawn Gibbs, served as this year’s Media Coordinator and furnished a special Media Day, which included news outlets from across the country as well as some of today’s top independent and mainstream gospel artists such as: Dale Ciceron, Lamont Sanders and One Way, Anita Wilson, James Hall, Mark Hubbard, Keith Williams, Chrystal Rucker, Darrel Petties, Everett Drake, Maurice Griffin, Donald Malloy, Zebulon Ellis, Livre, B. Chase Williams, Anthony Brown, Missy Billups and many more.
For the first time in GMWA history, Urban Soul Cafe presents: GMWA Late Night, was in full effect and was hosted my yours truly, Hasan James (Editor In Chief of Root Magazine) and Damita Haddon. This showcase featured dynamic performances from Joshua Generation, Mr. Del, Vincent Tharpe and Kenosis, Kevin Lemons and Higher Calling, Jor’dan Armsrtong, Jasmine Williams, Maurice Griffin, Maria Jenkins, Nate Bean & 4Given, Sean C. Johnson, Myesha Chaney, Men of God’s Heart and ended with an album release party at midnight for Sunday Best winner, Amber Bullock. Big shout out to the CEO of Urban Soul Cafe, Carlos Hale and Co-Chairman of GMWA and Chairman of the Gospel Announcer’s Guild, Al “The Bishop” Hobbs for producing a wonderful show that included some anointed up and coming talent.
The nightly youth and young adult showcase was one of the highlights of the week, as it featured some of today’s hottest up and coming and mainstream artist such as Livre, Kevin Lemons, Vashawn Mitchell, SSWAG Movement, The Bishop’s Choir, Anita Wilson, Stephen Hurd, B. Chase Williams, Timiney Figueroa- Caton and Anaysha Figueroa- Cooper and many other local artists. In addition to the nightly youth musicals, regularly scheduled early night musicals included Chapter Choirs from all over the country and abroad.
Another added touch to the conference was the GMWA “New Artist Showcase” that was three days of singing from up and coming artist who wanted to take a shot at being the next big thing. The judging panel and host throughout the week included key industry executives, media personalities, artists and songwriters such as David Frazier, Neily Dckerson, Hasan James, Jonathan Nelson, Jackie Patillo, Gina Miller, James Robinson, James Hall, Eboni Funderburk and Vashawn Mitchell. The showcase was spearheaded by Bishop Brian D. Moore and was attended by executives from Sony Music, Soul Town Records and Light Records. Up and coming artist Keylosophy, The Sons of God, David James and One Consecration, Diamond Divaz, Edwin Moore and Sounds of Worship, Mario Radford, Nyasia, Artisheia, Theresa Lang, Ron Bishop, Joyce Stockdale and many others. There was actually some really good talent here.
Under the Gospel Announcer’s Guild (GAG), The Gospel Music Workshop of America’s Quartet Division, annually honors groups and individuals who are considered legends at its Salute to Legends Gala Banquet and Awards Ceremony. Held on Wednesday, July 11th at Gaylord Opryland’s Ryman Ballroom, this year’s five honorees combined length of music ministry tops 200 years.
” I will always remember the achievement and the sacrifices made by our genres “pioneers” ” said Tyrone Porter, chairman of the GMWA Quartet Division which this year celebrates its 20th year as an auxiliary of GMWA. ” We take time out to honor those groups and individuals who paved the way for us and to educate the emerging groups on the things that happened ‘back in the day’ to enable artists to minister as we do today” Porter concluded.
Evelyn Turrentine Agee, Dr. Andrew Cheairs and the Songbirds, The Fairfield Four, Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones and The Truthettes comprise this years honoree group.
Root Magazine was the official journal of the conference and featured a dual cover that included “Mr. Nobody Greater”, Vashawn Mitchell on one side and Rev. James Cleveland and Bishop Albert L. Jamison and family on the other side. In his interview, Bishop Jamison spoke candidly about balancing family life with church life, his memories of Rev. James Cleveland and his last term as Chairman of the Board of GMWA. Multiple Grammy nominee and Stellar Award Winner- Vashawn Mitchell graced the flip side of Root with an EXCLUSIVE interview that revealed his thoughts on marriage, family, groupie love and his next album due on August 28th entitled, Created 4 This.
Throughout the week there were many prominent pastors and speakers from around the country for the Daily Breads services. Pastor Daniel Sutton, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III, Pastor Henzy Green, Bishop Larry Trotter, Dr. Melvin Wade, Elder Willie Campbell, Overseer Kervy Brown and Bishop Brian Moore all delivered life changing words that all tied into the theme of this year’s conference, “Unifying the Family through Gospel Music”.