The 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards Roundup: Gospel Field
The GRAMMY Awards honor recordings in 108 categories across 32 fields, from rap to classical. To help readers get a better sense of the breadth of the nominees and the wealth of recordings they've created over the last year, GRAMMY.com has prepared these field Roundups, which give quick details on the nominees in an easy-to-read format.
The continued strength of the multifaceted Gospel Field is demonstrated by the debut of a new Gospel GRAMMY category this year: Best Gospel Song. This follows last year's addition of the Best Gospel Performance award. Both categories bring together artists and writers from across the genre's varied musical tapestry.
That said, this year's nominees in the BEST GOSPEL PERFORMANCE category are heavily represented by artists from the contemporary soul and inspirational traditions. Queen of contemporary gospel Yolanda Adams is nominated for her full-bodied, emotional delivery on "Be Blessed," from Day By Day. Kirk Franklin's innovative blend of urban, R&B and traditional gospel come together on "Looking For You," from his Hero release. Donnie McClurkin channels his inspirational R&B into a collection called Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs, which includes his rafter-raising praise & worship anthem, "I Call You Faithful." Hezekiah Walker & Love Fellowship Choir are nominated for the jamming choir number "Lift Him Up" from 20/85 The Experience, while GRAMMY veteran CeCe Winans offers the bubbly R&B/pop confection, "Pray," from her Purified release.
Israel Houghton co-wrote BEST GOSPEL SONG nominee "Again I Say Rejoice" with renowned gospel producer Aaron Lindsey. Performed by Israel & New Breed, the song is an energetic and uplifting praise anthem. On "Be Blessed," Yolanda Adams sends a powerful message of encouragement wrapped in a smooth R&B style; the song was written by Adams, James Harris III (aka Jimmy Jam), Terry Lewis and James Q. Wright. Mary Mary's infectious urban R&B hit "Heaven" samples the Honey Cones' "Want Ads" into a joyous vision of the afterlife. The song was written by Mary Mary sisters Erica Campbell and Trecina "Tina" Campbell, Erica's husband Warryn Campbell, and sister Joi Campbell. Joeworn Martin, minister of music for the Love Fellowship Choir, penned the traditional choir praise number "Lift Him Up," performed by Hezekiah Walker and LFC. Known as a hit producer and songwriter for other artists, James Moss of the J Moss Project recorded his own gospel project and gets recognized for "We Must Praise."
The BEST ROCK GOSPEL ALBUM nominees cover a broad spectrum of rock styles. Audio Adrenaline has honed its fierce, aggressive sound over a decade-plus of recording; Until My Heart Caves In is the group's tenth studio album and sixth GRAMMY nomination. Hip-hop/rap outfit the Cross Movement urges listeners to view life through the crystal-clear lens of Christ on Higher Definition. Hard rock duo Day Of Fire features the powerful vocals of Josh Brown, formerly of Full Devil Jacket, who turned his life and career to God after a 2001 heroin overdose. Brown and Gregg Hionis are nominated for their self-titled debut, Day Of Fire. Canadian rapper Fresh I.E. tells his own redemption story of thug life transformed on Truth Is Fallin' In Tha Streetz. On Dichotomy B, rappers Coffee and Bonafide of Grits tighten their brand of holy hip-hop to offer a polished, accessible approach to the genre.
The BEST POP/CONTEMPORARY GOSPEL ALBUM category features gospel veterans and one newcomer. Casting Crowns gets its first nomination for Lifesong, a collection of power anthems and rock ballads. Five-time GRAMMY-winner Steven Curtis Chapman is nominated for All I Really Want For Christmas, his holiday release that includes new seasonal compositions as well as traditional favorites. In a radical departure from their previous work, Jars Of Clay's Redemption Songs sees the band explore traditional hymns through organic folk-Americana musicality. Urban/R&B sister act Out Of Eden hit the hymn track as well with Hymns, a collection of standard hymns and some rarities. After spending several years in the praise & worship sub-genre, three-time GRAMMY-winner Michael W. Smith returned to his pop roots on Healing Rain. Southern rock outfit Third Day won in the Best Rock Gospel Album category last year for Wire; they are nominated this year for Live Wire, a live concert recording that leans heavily on Wire material.
In the BEST SOUTHERN, COUNTRY, OR BLUEGRASS GOSPEL ALBUM category, The Crabb Family receives their third consecutive GRAMMY nomination with Live At Brooklyn Tabernacle, a release recorded live with the award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. As young children, Larry, Steve and Rudy Gatlin honed their harmonies singing in small Texas churches; Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers Sing Their Family Gospel Favorites finds the trio returning to these Southern gospel roots. Five-time GRAMMY-winner Amy Grant isn't normally considered a Southern gospel performer, but her Rock Of Ages...Hymns & Faith collection is drenched in Americana, folk and country traditions. Southern and African-American gospel traditions collide on the innovative collection Southern Meets Soul: An American Gospel Jubilee featuring The Jordanaires, The Light Crust Doughboys, Nokie Edwards and Larry "T-Byrd" Gordon. The Oak Ridge Boys revisit past hits and gospel standards on Common Thread, a collection that explores the famous quartet's musical heritage.
Shirley Caesar isn't called the First Lady of Gospel for nothing: with 11 GRAMMYs to her name, she explores new musical territory on the traditional/hip-hop blending I Know The Truth, nominated in the BEST TRADITIONAL SOUL GOSPEL ALBUM category. Dorinda Clark-Cole brings her distinctive smoky vocals and upbeat songs to concert recording Live From Houston...The Rose Of Gospel. Also with a live collection is Donnie McClurkin, whose Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs covers his original compositions plus well-loved songs from the likes of Michael W. Smith and Rich Mullins. Nominated for Say The Name, Florida worship leader Martha Munizzi's blue-eyed soul vocals and pop-worship compositions have made this relative newcomer a gospel chart mainstay. Singing The Old Time Way aptly describes this offering from Bishop G.E. Patterson & Congregation, which delivers old-school gospel performed in the traditional style. Former Commissioned member Marvin Sapp's first studio release in six years is Be Exalted, a contemporary-gospel hybrid that stretches the boundaries of traditional soul.
Nominees for BEST CONTEMPORARY SOUL GOSPEL ALBUM include legends and newcomers. After a four-year hiatus, Yolanda Adams released the elegant Day By Day, a collection of gently inspirational performances that features special guests and fellow GRAMMY nominees Mary Mary and Donnie McClurkin. The self-titled Mary Mary finds sisters Erica and Tina Campbell expanding their musical horizons, embracing styles such as big band, dance, R&B and old-time blues. After making a name for himself behind-the-scenes producing the likes of Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp and cousin Dorinda Clark-Cole, J Moss makes a rare step into the spotlight with The J Moss Project. BeBe Winans moves away from his signature R&B sound on Dream, a collection of mellow, polished pop. Conversely, sister CeCe Winans' nominated effort Purified is a more upbeat affair, bringing together Latin, urban and R&B influences and a straightforward inspirational message.
Leading the BEST GOSPEL CHOIR OR CHORUS ALBUM nominees is Donald Lawrence, whose I Speak Life marks his first album without his Tri-City Singers by his side. Instead, Lawrence is joined by a stellar group of special guests, ranging from gospel's own Hezekiah Walker, Donnie McClurkin and Richard Smallwood to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and jazz singer Lalah Hathaway. John P. Kee directs the VIP Mass Choir in Live At The Fellowship, a genre-hopping praise collection. Kurt Carr's groundbreaking One Church project is a world-outreach effort, embracing artists of all nationalities, races and creeds. Having converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gladys Knight does some unifying of her own, bringing African-American gospel tradition to the Mormon Church's 100-member Saints Unified Voices choir on One Voice. In 2005, Hezekiah Walker & Love Fellowship Choir celebrated two decades in the music industry; an examination of the past 20 years is the theme of 20/85 The Experience.