by Robert Hasan James
January 14, 2011
Last Friday about this time, BMI was gearing up for one of the most anticipated events of the Stellar Award weekend. This year, the music publishing company honored the legendary, Shirley Caesar and iconic group Commissioned. Before the tribute started however, brother and sister duo, BeBe & CeCe Winans was honored with a BMI award for their hit song “Close to You” from the chart topping CD, “Still”. In an awkward moment, BeBe joked that he was thinking about going to ASCAP, making reference to BMI taking too long to honor them with an award.
Platinum pastor, Donnie McClurkin & newly appointed pastor of Love & Liberty Fellowship, Kim Burrell were the hosts of the afternoon and they did not disappoint. Arnetta Murrill from the group The Murrills kicked things off with the tribute to Pastor Shirley Caesar doing her rendition of “Hold My Mule”. Taking things to the next level was newly crowned Stellar award winner, Lucinda Moore with “The Armor of God” and she serenaded Pastor Caesar well as later on in the program, Shirley Caesar referred to her as “The big tall girl who can sang”! It seemed as though every round went higher and higher as Pastor Beverly Crawford hit the stage for a soul stirring performance of “Sweeping Through the City”. One word…WOW! Co-host, Kim Burrell, who was looking very svelte, was next up to honor Shirley Caesar and she really proved why she is known as one of the best singers in the world. “No Charge” was her song of choice and she painted the same vivid picture that Caesar does every time she sings the song. As if that was not enough of a treat, Burrell also sang “Jesus how I love calling your name” and sent the crowd of about 500 to a frenzy. Word has it that American Idol winner, Fantasia, was supposed to be on deck to honor Caesar, but due to some unforseen circumstances was replaced by the one and only Ledisi, who made “You’re Next in Line For a Miracle” sound like a neo soul masterpiece.
Now on to the final honorees for the afternoon, 80’s super group Commissioned. For weeks, industry insiders and gospel music lovers were buzzing about whether all of the original members of the group would be in attendance, namely Michael Brooks. To everyone’s surprise, ll of the original members were in attendance and it was like the “Official” reunion we have all been waiting for. Speaking of reunion, 1990’s duo Dawkins and Dawkins were the first to pay tribute to Commissioned via their classic hit “Ordinary Just Won’t Do”. It was as if the brothers had never left the music scene as they sounded great! It says a lot when legends in your genre of music take time out of their busy schedules to honor you and that was the case when the legendary Clark Sisters honored their fellow Detroit brothers with another one of their classics, “I’m Going On”. With perfect harmony, the sisters easily got everyone out of their seats; everyone from artists, taste makers and music executives. Men of Standard, Deitrick Haddon, Parkes Stewart and The Soul Seekers rounded off this tremendous, well deserved, tribute to Commissioned with a handful of their hits such as: “Running Back to You” and “Tis So Sweet”.
After it was all said and done both honorees were humbled as Shirley Caesar was overcome with emotion and stated that “it was gonna be hard for her to do any of her songs again because everyone had done such a magnificent job”. Considering it had been 21 years since all of Commissioned had been on one stage at the same time, they all had much to say. Fred Hammond made it his business to dispel any rumors of beef and let the crowd know that “If you came to see some mess, you came to the wrong place”. After most of the group members had their say, it was time for an old school jam session with Michael Brooks on the organ, Fred Hammond on bass and the rest of the fellas taking turns on their popular song “Victory”. This was indeed a stellar way to kick off Stellar award weekend!