With a total of nine nominations—including Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year—Marvin Sapp leads the field of nominees for the 24th Annual Stellar Awards, the industry’s most prestigious televised awards shows.
 
Despite some pretty stiff competition from the likes of Kirk Franklin, Dorinda Clark-Cole and Deitrick Haddon, each tied with five nods for their respective releases, and Israel & New Breed, CeCe Winans, Beverly Crawford and Ricky Dillard—all of whom snagged four nominations each—Sapp is expected to run the tables at the January 17, 2009 taping of the show with his near-platinum release, Thirsty, featuring the smash single, “Never Would Have Made It.”
 
Trailing close behind with eight nominations is Jonathan Nelson, a first-time nominee whose debut, Right Now Praise, has taken him to the head of the class.
 
Other multiple nominees include Myron Butler, Marvin Winans, Bishop Paul S. Morton, the Chicago Mass Choir and John Tillery, another first-time nominee with an impressive showing.
 
The show, which will be seen Sunday, March 1 on Gospel Music Channel, will be taped in January at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, hosted by Yolanda Adams and Sinbad. Special honors go to Daryl Coley (The James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award); the Rance Allen Group (the Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Award) and Vickie Winans (Most Notable Achievement).
 
Carr Gets Back to His Roots

After a four-year hiatus from recording, Kurt Carr returns to his roots with his seventh album, Just the Beginning, which released October 28.
 
“It’s great to be back,” says the GRAMMY-nominated singer, though he doesn’t feel that he’s been gone given the high volume of work done for others like Ami Rushes, Bishop Paul Morton and Tramaine Hawkins, that has kept him on the charts, even if behind the scenes.
 
And while many would say the pressure is on to perform in such a tight market brimming with a rash of new releases—including Mary Mary, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, and Hezekiah Walker—and the phenomenal staying power of Marvin Sapp’s Thirsty, the artist known as a perfectionist no longer lets such concerns get the better of him.
 
Says Carr: “After ‘Every Mountain,’ I heard announcers say, ‘Oh you’ll never top that.’ I ran into Andraé Crouch and I asked him about that, and he told me ‘Your success has nothing to do with you: it’s God, so the pressure’s not on you in that sense...’ The thing I have in my favor is that my music is for the saints of God. There’s always going to be a church. There’s always going to be a choir.”
 
In that sense, Carr has always played to his strength with his trademark brand of Sunday-morning gospel in his first-ever double CD, and though it wasn’t planned that way, the first single provides a word for what the nation is going through.

“Every morning when I get up I say, ‘I walk in peace and favor,’” Carr says of the lead single, "Peace & Favor Rest on Us,” which label execs hope to make an enduring gospel classic.
 
“I had no idea that it would come out at a time like this when the financial system is crumbling and times are so hard, and the song is saying that believers have to live by the favor of God,” Carr continues. “The King that we serve has no lack of resources, so he will always provide for his children, and we have to rest in that peace.”
 
Another high-energy track is "Don't Let Your Light Go Out," which is preceded by a musical treat from 89-year-old Narcissus Hinton-Brown, a traditional soloist from Carr's hometown in Hartford, Connecticut, and one of his mentors. "As a kid, she was a star soloist at my church," says Carr. “I didn't start going to church until I was 15, and God used people like Narcissus to inspire me in my musical journey. I just always wanted to do something special for her because she never received great national acclaim, yet she remained steadfast and faithful to her calling.”
 
For all of his success and accomplishments, the GRAMMY-nominated artist says the CD—recorded live at the Christ Temple of Deliverance Church near Houston—marks a new beginning.
 
"New adventures and new business relationships, I'm excited about what the Lord has in store,” reports Carr. “This is just the beginning of what he’s going to do in my life and in the life of my singers. I’m finally sure of who I am. I accepted my calling to preach and got a minister’s license last year. On the music side, I have an imprint deal, and this new project is part of that. I’m also developing artists for Kurt Carr Gospel, where the theme is ‘driving gospel to a new level.’”
 
“Man has a tendency to put limits on you,” Carr adds, “but with God, there are no limits.”