*Gospel recording artist veteran star CeCe Winans has become Motown Gospel’s first signing, with her inaugural Motown Gospel album.
This will also mark Winans’ first record in five years which is not set for release early next year, says InlandValleyNews.com.
Also on the roster are Detroiter Kierra (Kiki) Sheard, Smokie Norful, Tye Tribbett and Tasha Cobbs.
Barry Weiss, chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group East Coast Label Group says the new label will also tap into the promotional resources of Motown Records, whose current roster includes Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu and Kem.
The venture comes half a century after Motown’s first foray into gospel music, with the short-lived Divinity Records in 1962. But the new Motown Gospel is already a prime-time player, marshaling an array of top executives in New York and Nashville and helmed by a pair of industry veterans: Universal’s Weiss — whose Island Def Jam group includes Motown Records — and Bill Hearn, president of EMI’s Christian music arm.
“It’s hugely significant for Barry Weiss and Bill Hearn to come together,” said Jackie Patillo, executive director of the Gospel Music Association. “This just strengthens the reach for gospel music.”
*Everybody just needs to leave poor little Michelle Williams alone. She knows what she’s doing.
The singer has been recently criticized for bouncing back and forth between secular music and gospel, some even questioning her commitment to God. But she says her salvation is not anyone else’s business.
“I don’t make it an issue. Everybody else does. You know, as a human your feelings are going to get hurt because you want people to know, like, what do I gotta do to prove to people that I’m saved?” Michelle questioned via Philadelphia’s Praise 103.9. “Do I need to speak in tongues? Do I need to froth at the mouth? Saints of God, what do y’all need me to do?”
A rhetorical question, really. She followed up, explaining that she knows God has her right where he wants her.
*Each year broadcast and cable television networks hold special presentations in New York City to attract advertisers. These events, called upfronts, attract billlions of dollars in advertising, says the Christian Post.
At yesterday’s upfront for GMC, the network’s vice chairman Brad Siegel announced the channel will change its name to UP in June, reported Broadcasting and Cable. This might be a move to differentiate the network from GMC Trucks. The channel has been promoting itself with the motto “uplifting entertainment.”
Unlike most religious networks GMC’s financial model involves advertising rather than beg-a-thons and preachers buying most of the airtime.
GMC also announced at its upfront plans to feature an original reality TV series, movies and stage plays.
*Six-time Stellar Award winner VaShawn Mitchell has been added to the United As One Tour roster. He joins the ranks of James Fortune, Kierra Sheard and Zacardi Cortez.
“[VaShawn's] set is perfect for praise and worship,” reports the GopelPundit.com. “The crowd loved it. He doesn’t disappoint.”
While preparing for the tour, Mitchell has been busy promoting his current album, “Created 4 This,” which is currently no. 9 on Billboard‘s Top Gospel Albums chart. His current single, “Turning Around For Me,” is no. 7 on Billboard‘s Top Gospel Songs chart.
Mitchell also co-hosted the 28th Annual Stellar Gospel Music pre-show and was a presenter on the live broadcast, which aired on GMC.
Mitchell will also be the featured talent in a Ford commercial running during the nationally syndicated broadcast of the Stellar Awards, which will air on 150 stations in over 125 markets across the country (check local TV listings for dates and times in your area).
*Richard Smallwood, one of Gospel’s living legends latest project is “Promises.”
The album is the first one since 2005 for the artist, since his mother’s passing.
“I had not written a song since my mom died,” he says, “I thought the gift had dried up. I would try to write and nothing would come.”
So his album is filled with little messages of hope and encouragement for those who have also suffered losses or are just going through a hard time.
Smallwood says “Trust Me” “is a song to encourage those who have experienced loss. It’s telling them that what they are feeling shall pass, if they only trust God.”
“I was going through some of the songs I had written in the ‘70s and many had the same theme as this song,” Smallwood recalls. “Back then it was the Vietnam War, so we’re going through the very same thing because there’s always been fighting, there’s always been war. But now racism has reared its ugly head in a way that I haven’t seen since I was a little boy. I wanted to write something that everyone could identify with globally, which is that we need peace.”
*As legendary as she is and as powerful as her music has become, Shirley Caesar remains humble and candid about her journey, says Singersroom.com.
Appearing on Good Day LA earlier this month, the “No Charge” and “He’s Working It Out For You” singer spoke about her voice, the anointing, preaching and singing and even admitted that she learned how to “yodel” and piece words together quickly from Sam Cooke and other soulful singers.
“My voice has always been bigger than me,” Caesar told Good Day LA. “Singing and preaching goes together like ham and eggs.”
In addition to speaking about her album, Shirley Caesar just happened to be in the studio when ”American Idol” top 10 performer Curtis Finch Jr. was there. Having an amazing opportunity to meet her and discuss her impact on Gospel music and his life, Finch sat down with Shirley Caesar on-air…