Winners for the 2022 BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards were recently celebrated at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville. BMI’s Gospel Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Publisher of the Year, as well as the top 20 songs of the previous year were all honored at the private event hosted by BMI’s President & CEO, Mike O’Neill, and BMI’s Vice President, Creative-Atlanta, Catherine Brewton.
The event kicked off with Mali Music performing the Grammy award-winning song “Movin On,” co-written with Jonathan McReynolds and Terrell Demetrius Wilson. Natalie Grant followed with a performance of Donald Lawrence’s hit song, “God,” which she is featured on. CeCe Winans also gave a powerful rendition of “Believe for It.”
BMI’s Gospel Songwriter of the Year was a four-way tie between Aaron Lindsey, J Drew Sheard II, Kierra Sheard and Jeshua “TedyP” Williams.
Grammy, Dove and Stellar award-winning songwriter Lindsey was honored for two chart-topping songs: “It Belongs to Me,” co-written and performed by Juan and Lisa Winans (feat. Marvin Winans) and “Thank You for It All,” co-written by Jarmone E. Davis and Marvin Sapp. Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer Williams was honored for his work on “Hold Me Close” and for co-writing “Trouble Won’t Last” with Keyondra Lockett, who won her first BMI award for the hit single.
Drew and Sheard were honored for co-writing “His Love” and “It Keeps Happening,” which marked Kierra’s first No. 1 single at Gospel radio as a solo artist and her third No. 1 overall on the Gospel Airplay chart. This also marks the first time that siblings have received this honor at a Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards ceremony.
BMI’s Gospel Song of the Year was “Speak to Me,” co-written by Troy Taylor and featuring samples from Donnie McClurkin’s 1996 single “Speak to My Heart.” The hit single, performed by Koryn Hawthorne, spent 41 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Chart and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2021 Dove Awards. This was McClurkin’s fifth BMI Gospel Award, and Taylor added his first BMI Gospel Award to his collection of honors, which includes three BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards.
BMI’s Gospel Publisher of the Year went to Be Essential Songs for having hits such as “In Spite of Me,” “Movin’ On,” and “Never Lost” among its repertoire.
The ceremony also featured performances by gospel greats and BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Icons, Sapp and Kirk Franklin, as well as rising gospel star DOE. Greg Cox joined Franklin on stage for a rendition of “Strong God,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart. To close out the performances, Jekalyn Carr gave a rousing rendition of “Stand” by Donnie McClurkin as a tribute to the gospel legend.
The top 20 Gospel Songs of the previous year were awarded prior to the ceremony, welcoming 27 first-time winners. Some of the emerging songwriters who collected their first BMI award included Byron Cage, Emerald Campbell, Quennel Gaskin and Juan Winans, to name a few.
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