Whoever walks away with the statue, it will be a collective victory for the genre in light of reports that BET has chosen to axe its annual “Celebration of Gospel,” further limiting the exposure of the niche genre.
This year, despite the downside of losing one of the flagship faith-based programs on one of the few networks representing the African-American community, gospel fans are excited and all abuzz over this year’s nominees in the “Best Gospel Artist” category.
Donnie McClurkin, Erica Campbell, Hezekiah Walker, Tamela Mann and Tye Tribbett have all received nods.
“This year’s nominees represent the best of the culture,” says Stephen Hill, BET’s President of Music Programming and Specials via a press release.
“It’s great to see our talented new artist’s right alongside our more beloved ones with long careers. We appreciate our BET Awards nomination committee, over 300 strong, for their efforts and congratulate all the nominees.”
The host for the BET Awards is comedian and actor Chris Rock. The award show will air live from Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, June 29 at 8pm EST.
“Congratulations to all the nominees,” said Dianna Hobbs, award-winning CEO of Empowering Everyday Women in a statement. “They are all sharing the gospel and it’s great to see them recognized for doing an exceptional job.”
Gospel’s finest will be honored alongside the biggest names in mainstream entertainment.
Amid the excitement, however, the cancellation of “Celebration of Gospel” is a stark reminder that avenues to share the good news of the gospel are very limited.
Even though official ratings showed that the 14th “Celebration of Gospel” program, hosted by Taraji P. Henson, drew an impressive 2.6 million viewers, it wasn’t enough to convince executives to keep it running.
Online petitions, Twitter complaints, and unanswered questions from disappointed gospel fans littered the digital world upon release of the news. Some have demanded that BET executives alter the decision which was first announced at its New York “Upfront” presentation.
Cancellation and all, BET still has a strong faith viewership regularly tuning in to programs like “Sunday Best,” “The Sheards,” “Lift Every Voice,” “Bobby Jones Gospel” and other specialty programming.
Best Gospel Artist Nominees
- Donnie McClurkin
- Erica Campbell
- Hezekiah Walker
- Tamela Mann
- Tye Tribbett