BMI honored gospel giants Kirk Franklin and Hezekiah Walker at its 13th annual Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 13 at Rocketown in Nashville.
Franklin is the best-selling contemporary gospel artist in SoundScan history. He was the first gospel artist to sell more than one million albums, and today his sales tally exceeds 15 million. Franklin has earned 20 No. 1 singles on gospel charts, and has consistently crossed over to urban radio. Performing some of his most loved songs at the event were Fred Hammond, Jessica Reedy and the Kirk Franklin Singers, Myron Butler, LeAndria Johnson, Isaac Carree, Rance Allen and Kim Burrell.
Walker has led the Love Fellowship Choir, one of gospel music’s most influential groups, for more than two decades. His knack for injecting traditional gospel and choir music with hip-hop and funk has resulted in multiple Grammy wins. The musical tribute to Walker featured Faith Evans, Dorinda Clark Cole, Kim Burrell, DJ Rogers, Tamela Mann, Israel Houghton and Marvin Sapp.
Additionally, Sapp’s “The Best in Me” was named BMI’s Most-Performed Gospel Song of the Year. Co-written by Sapp and Aaron Lindsey, the song topped gospel charts and achieved historic crossover success, climbing from No. 78 to No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hot Songs Chart—the biggest jump for a gospel hit since Billboard began using Nielsen SoundScan 18 years ago.
Burrell and Houghton hosted the luncheon, along with Catherine Brewton, BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, and Del Bryant, BMI President & CEO.
Photos: Arnold Turner