Inside the GMA


Close to 200 aspiring artists and songwriters gathered at Christ Church in
Nashville for the first regional event of the 2000-01 AGMA season.
Registrants attended seminars and critique sessions led by industry leaders.
The semi-final competition for the Song of 2001 and Spotlight 2001 was held
on Saturday night, November 18, at the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase at Opry
Mills. The GMA congratulates the following winners of the Song and
Spotlight competition:
Song of 2001
Contemporary Christian: “Wait For Me,” Christopher Commisso from Kinsman,
Southern Gospel: “Beautiful To Me,” Patty Walker from Corpus Christi, Texas
Urban Gospel: “Gaze of Grace,” Brooke Dozier from New Haven, Connecticut.
Spotlight 2001:
Contemporary Christian: Esther’s Request from Louisville, Kentucky.

Band members: Daniel Dabney, David Weir, Steve Kohlman, Brad
McMahan, and Jenny Dedrick
Southern Gospel: Leah Keibler from Carroll, Ohio
Urban Gospel: Marcus Kelley from Florissant, Missouri.
Semi-final winners will now travel to Estes Park, Colo., to compete in the
International Finals during the Seminar in the Rockies, July 29 – August 4,
The next AGMA regional event is scheduled for February 23-24, 2001, in
Washington, DC. Deadline to enter competition materials is Monday, January
29, 2001. Visit for more details and registration
The GMA’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame honored a host of gospel music
legends on Monday, October 30, with its 29th class of inductees.

Honored in the night’s festivities were Bob Mac Kenzie, Roger Breland
and Truth, Edwin Hawkins, Shirley Caesar, The Kingsmen, Petra, the Fisk
Jubilee Singers and the Oak Ridge Boys.

With the hometown Tennessee Titans playing the Washington Redskins on
Monday Night Football, host Gary Chapman teased that he was “obviously
thrilled” to be hosting the evening’s ceremony that started at game time.
But Chapman became somber as he introduced the first inductee, a mentor of
his and many other Christian artists, Bob Mac Kenzie who passed away on
October 20.

Mac Kenzie was honored posthumously with a special tribute from Bill
Gaither. Bob’s wife, Joy, accepted the induction and encouraged the
audience, “When Bob was sick, he listened to many gospel CDs. They were his
lifelines. The music had incredible meaning for him in those dark nights.”

Dick and Melodie Tunney, two of over 400 Truth alumni, introduced
inductees Roger Breland and Truth with “The Faithfulness of God,” a song
originally written for Truth’s 25th anniversary in 1996.

“We’ve been to ‘thumb-suck Egypt,’ where the people don’t know who I
am,” mused Breland. “But I remember a word given to me long ago: ‘Maybe
you’ll be famous or maybe not. But God didn’t call you to be famous; He
called you to be faithful.’ Truth may not have a lot of number one songs,
but we’ve seen a billion blessings.”

Inductee Edwin Hawkins could not attend the ceremony, but Lillie
Knauls, an original member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, was on hand to
accept the honor. Reading a letter from Hawkins, Knauls said, “I give thanks
to [Jesus Christ] for the gift of song. I am humbled by this great honor.”

Shirley Caesar, while admitting that balancing being a gospel artist,
pastor and wife is not easy, also urged the audience to “allow somebody to
stand on your shoulders to see down the road. Just as I stood on Albertina
Walker’s shoulders, now Kirk Franklin stands on my shoulders.”

The Kingsmen, past and present, came together to perform at the
ceremony. Group founder Eldridge Fox accepted the induction in this the
Kingsmen’s 44th year in existence. The Kingsmen made history with the song
“Excuses,” which maintained its number one status for 19 months.

“Something all these inductees have in common-they have broken down
barriers,” said Jeff Moseley, Chairman of the GMA Board, as he introduced
group inductee Petra. “I answered letters to Christian bookstores that
refused to carry Petra’s music, calling it ‘God-less’ rock. Petra opened
doors and paved the way for today’s artists.”

Petra founder Bob Hartman commented on those early days. “We started
playing for people who were like us, who didn’t get into traditional church
music, but who liked rock-n-roll. We didn’t think anyone would have a
problem with us putting Christian lyrics to rock music. Then we found out
people were down the street praying against our concerts. So this is a huge
honor for us, and it is not taken lightly.”

Since their beginning, the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in
Nashville, Tenn., have continued to present Negro spirituals as an art form,
performing in the U.S. and around the world.

Current director, Dr. Paul Kwami, accepted the honor for them and said
that although the group has existed for close to 130 years, “God knows the
time to honor the Fisk Jubilee Singers.”

The final inductee presentation of the evening was in honor of the Oak
Ridge Boys. Past and present members came on stage to sing their
ever-popular hit, “Jesus Is Coming Soon.”

Formed in 1945 by Gospel Music Hall of Famer, Wally Fowler, the Oak
Ridge Boys moved from their place in gospel music to country music in the
early 1970s. And in one of the more moving speeches of the night, current
member Duane Allen spoke about the group’s last gospel show.

“We saw a standing ovation of a different kind at that show; we saw
people stand and turn their backs. That night we saw a problem in the
business; we saw people who were not open to new ideas. Now is the time to
retrace those steps. The path brings us back to you. And it is the most
wonderful thing to see this standing ovation tonight by the same group of
people who walked out years ago. I know we are accepted tonight.”

And what timing for the country act’s induction into the Hall of
Fame-the Oak Ridge Boys headed into the studio a week later to record its
first gospel album in 25 years-an album planned long before the induction
was announced.

The night ended with Shirley Caesar leading the audience in a rousing
rendition of “Oh, Happy Day.”


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