Honorees were Gospel Music Legends Edwin Hawkins and Hezekiah Walker, Philanthropist and Kennedy Center Trustee Reginald Van Lee and Congressman G.K. Butterfield
HOUSTON, TX – The Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation (@gmhmonth) held its eighth annual “Evolution of Gospel,” which commemorated the month of September as Gospel Music Heritage Month (GMHM). The celebration presented inspirational and exhilarating music performances by some of Gospel music’s biggest stars and honored individuals who have made significant contributions to the rich legacy of Gospel music in America. The “Evolution of Gospel” was held on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 7 p.m. EDT at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
This year’s honorees were composer/producer/vocalist Edwin Hawkins; Grammy® Award-winning singer/composer and choir leader Bishop Hezekiah Walker and philanthropist and Kennedy Center Board of Trustee Reginald Van Lee. In addition, The Gospel Music Heritage Foundation will pay tribute to Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The awards event was hosted by Grammy® Award-winning gospel music singer and television host Dr. Bobby Jones and Stellar Award winning musical artist Lonnie Hunter. Presenters included Deborah F. Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Musical tributes were rendered by some of the most anointed gospel vocalists and choirs, including, McDonald’s Gospel Inspirational Tour artists Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Canton Jones, Johnathan McReynolds, Doug Williams, Allen Chapel A.M.E. One Accord Choir, Stacy J & Unified Praise, and the WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. The event was produced by Ernest Walker of Walker Entertainment Group.
In 2008, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced historic resolution, H.J. Res. 90 which established September as Gospel Music Heritage Month across the nation. Advocates joining Congresswoman Lee in support of the recognition were gospel music advocate Carl Davis; UP TV Founder and President Charley Humbard, and entertainment executive Alvin Williams. With additional support from Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), the bipartisan passage of the bill helped to usher in a new national focus to honor gospel music for its valuable and longstanding contributions to the culture of the United States. Subsequently Congresswoman Lee led the effort with Carl Davis to create the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation that celebrates gospel music annually and honors the music as a national treasure.
Congresswoman Lee said of the event, “I am excited as we prepare to celebrate the 8th Annual Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration at the world renowned Kennedy Center. The Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration is the nation’s singular event of significance commemorating gospel music history. This year presents one of our best celebrations as we honor four of America’s greatest advocates and beneficiaries of gospel music. Gospel music has a prominent place in the history of America and it has impacted the entire world for generations.”
Carl Davis, chairman of the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation stated, “This year the “Evolution of Gospel” will honor two gospel icons, Edwin Hawkins, Bishop Hezekiah Walker as well as Kennedy Center Trustee & philanthropist Reginald Van Lee and Congressman G. K. Butterfield all for their contributions to the fabric of this nation. The efficacy of these individuals has impacted the genre of gospel music with historical relevance and meaning. They have indelibly written on the consciousness of the human spirit the unyielding power of the gospel through song.”
* Gospel Music Advocate Carl Davis on Twitter @Carlddavis
Gospel Music Heritage Month was created by Congressional resolution in 2008 to celebrate and educate people about the rich history of gospel music. GMHM honors a true American art form for its vast contributions to our culture, bringing a message of hope and inspiration to people of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. People are encouraged to celebrate Gospel Music Heritage Month by attending concerts, events, watching and listening to gospel music, learning and reading about gospel music and more.