D.C. Area Nominees Hope for a Stellar Award

Ed Laiscell | 1/14/2010, 7:42 a.m.

When the 25th Annual Stellar Awards is taped on Wed., Jan. 16, inside the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., there will be host of artists and radio broadcast owners from the Washington, D.C., area seated in the audience with bated breath hoping to bring home one of the coveted music awards.

The Stellar Awards, the first Gospel Music Awards show in the nation to honor Gospel music artists, writers and industry professionals for their contributions to the genre was established in 1985. The awards ceremony will be televised on several networks later this year.

Two local radio stations, a gospel choir and a Gospel singer and writer have been nominated for Stellar Awards. Radio station WPRS-FM, 104.1 in Waldorf, Md., the Oxon Hill High School Gospel Choir in Oxon Hill, Md., and Spiritco1, a 24-hour online gospel music station based in Fort Washington, Md., along with Phillip Carter, a Gospel singer, writer and producer -- all want to hoist a Stellar Award in mid-air.

€I have always had a love for gospel music,€ said Henry Harris, owner of Spiritco1 and deacon of Greater Mount Calvary Church in Northeast.

In 2001, Harris, 54, said that he learned through his involvement with the Stellar Awards Gospel Music University advisory board that Gospel artists, musicians and entertainers could not get air play on major radio stations.

Harris said during conversations with performers he met through his affiliation with the Chicago-based music university he learned of talks about using the internet to broadcast the music.

€Two years later, in 2003, we put Spiritco1 Internet Radio online,€ Harris said. €Because the technology was so new at the time a lot of people still didn€t tune in or believe in the technology.€

Although Spiritco1 has attracted a €good amount€ of loyal listeners, internet radio still has a ways to go, Harris said. €It has grown tremendously. Although we have people who come and purchase commercial spots, it still has not arrived because people still believe that traditional radio is always the way to go,€ he added.

Carter, a Stellar Awards nominee, hosts a talk show, €Real Talk with Phillip Carter,€ on Spiritco1.
As minister of music at Mount Ephraim Baptist Church in Largo, Md., and as an organist at Bread of Life Church in Fort Washington, Md., Carter said that he often toyed with the idea of having his own show.

€I had often expressed interest in doing a talk show on radio,€ Carter, 34, said. €I met Harris about six years ago and he told me about his station. We went back and forth for about two years until I decided to take the initiative to put together a talk show. It developed from there,€ he said.

Carter€s no novice when it comes to the Stellar Awards process. He has been nominated in previous years, but has yet to receive one of the popular awards. This year he hopes the tide turns, considering the success of his most recent CD project, €Songs From The Storm & SOV,€ which he co-produced with Michael Smith. The collaborative effort led to six nominations. The versatile artist is both surprised and
humbled by the numerous nominations. €I think anyone would be surprised to be in any category
when it comes to the Stellar Awards because it means someone has looked at you favorably enough to consider you worthy of getting an award.€