Music was in the air as The 11th Annual USAGEM Banquet & Awards was underway on Saturday November 22, 2014. The show was held in the luxurious Cumberland Ballroom at the Opryland Marriott Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The show began immediately following the banquet, which started at 6:00 PM.
Mending Fences, a group formed from the band of the Nashville Cowboy Church, opened the program and set the tone for the evening. They performed a Paul Overstreet penned song, “God Is Good All The Time”.
The event was hosted by Roy and Lynn Fox of The Fox Brothers. Roy Fox, who underwent heart surgery earlier this year, was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience. After his introduction, Roy thanked everyone and then joked “You know, my doctor has one of the best stress tests I know of. It’s called the bill!”
Throughout the evening, The Fox Brothers intertwined their homespun humor as they introduced segment co-hosts and performers. The brothers were presented top honors for Gospel Entertainer and Vocal Group. They also picked up the Song Of The Year trophy for “It’s Time For Love”, a song written by Nashville songwriter, Dwight Liles.
Segment co-hosts for the event were The Gardners, Tank Tankett & Ann Hartmann, Dwayne & Tommie Lewis, Randy & Wendi Pierce, and Daniel & Teresa Johnson. Tank Tackett received The Male Vocalist Of The Year award while Daniel and Teresa Johnson, also known as The Pearly Gates, garnered the trophy for the USAGEM Duo Of The Year.
There were five Crown Jewel Awards presented earlier during the USAGEM Convention. The Reed Brothers, one of the organization’s new groups, announced the winners during the awards ceremony. Recipients were: Rockin’ Reggie Vinson for the Contemporary Christian Crown Jewel; Bev McCann for the Christian Country Crown Jewel; NYU Testament for the Black Gospel Crown Jewel; Leipers Fork Bluegrass for the Bluegrass Crown Jewel; and Tank Tackett for the Southern Gospel Crown Jewel.
During the show, top nominees Jim Sheldon and The Kent Smith Family both performed very powerful and moving songs. Sheldon performed “Even After”, a song he wrote as a tribute to his sister who passed away last year; and The Kent Smith Family performed their top nominated song, “He Is There With Me” written by Deborah Jones, who is the mother of the group’s lead singer, Eddie Jones.
Rick Alan King performed “An Unfinished Task” to a standing ovation. Rick and his wife Lana were also presented the USAGEM Ruby Award. Russ Murphy performed his nominated song “Stand Up For Jesus” with his friend and co-writer Robert Jason. Murphy took home the Emerald Award.
Peggy Inks accepted the Sapphire Award in behalf of her friend David Smith; and Tommie Lewis accepted the Pearl Award in behalf of Brenda Ivy Robertson. The USAGEM Diamond Award was presented to David & Carrie Smith who performed their powerful song “On My Father’s Side”.
Rene Jones performed his latest single, “Thank God For Mama”. Although this song received two nods for Video and Song Of The Year, Jones took home the honor of Video Of The Year for his previous single, “Bible By Her Bed”. Ann Hartmann was acknowledged by Jones for writing this song and was brought up to the stage during the acceptance of the award.
The award for USAGEM New Artist Of The Year went to NYU Testament. This group had the audience on their feet during their rousing performance of “It Pays To Wait”. Sandi Kay Shupe won the accolades for Female Vocalist Of The Year and this was a first time win for her in this category. Her group, Sandi Kay & New Hickory performed the upbeat “I Can See Clearly Now”.
Shelton Bissell won the award for Musician Of The Year for the second time and Jimmy Jack Whitaker received the USAGEM Singer/Songwriter Of The Year award for the first time. Whitaker closed the show with his very moving song, “Called”.
Other performers on the show were The Waymasters, Debbie Bennett, Roger Revette & UR1, For Heaven’s Sake, Danny Jones, Rockin’ Reggie Vinson, and Southern Faith. Award presenters included Reggie & Kat Vinson, The Reed Brothers, Rene & Edie Jones, Don & Joy McCloud, Cherie Brennan, Sheila Berry, Sandi Kay & Jay Shupe, Journey Of Faith, Laura Mathy, Cassidy Taylor, Marty Merchant, Peggy Inks, Chuck & Candace Kuykendall, and Mariah Neff.
Summer & Autumn Ryan, beautiful daughters of Cassie Cornish, presented the trophies to the award winners. Band members were Jay Shupe, Bud Rawles, Tom Campbell, Kevin Kathey, Rick Otis, Bobby Kay, and Jack Rollier. Backup singers included Sandi Kay Shupe, Cassie Cornish, Rene Jones, and Jim Sheldon.
During the pre-awards ceremony, Michael and Ann Gardner was presented a special plaque by the USAGEM Board Of Directors for their service to the organization. Michael Gardner has served as president for the past four years and he stated that he plans to step down after this year. Before being president, Gardner served on the USAGEM Board Of Directors and as the treasurer for the organization.
The USAGEM Awards Show was filmed in its entirety by Jimmy Adams Media and iTube 247. The show will be streamed at www.iTube247.com at a later date.
Below is a list of this year’s USAGEM award winners:
Diamond Award - David & Carrie Smith
Emerald Award - Russ Murphy
Pearl Award - Brenda Ivy Robertson
Ruby Award - Rick & Lana King
Sapphire Award - David Smith
Gospel Entertainer Of The Year - The Fox Brothers
Male Vocalist Of The Year - Tank Tackett
Female Vocalist Of The Year - Sandi Kay Shupe
Duo Of The Year - The Pearly Gates
Singer/Songwriter Of The Year - Jimmy Jack Whitaker
Video Of The Year - “Bible By Her Bed” by Rene Jones
Song Of The Year - “It’s Time For Love” by The Fox Brothers
Musician Of The Year - Shelton Bissell
Vocal Group Of The Year - The Fox Brothers
New Artist Of The Year - NYU Testament
Southern Gospel Crown Jewel - Tank Tackett
Contemporary Christian Crown Jewel - Rockin’ Reggie Vinson
Black Gospel Crown Jewel - NYU Testament
Bluegrass Crown Jewel - Leipers Fork Bluegrass
Christian Country Crown Jewel - Bev McCann
Non-Performing Member Award - John Young
Radio Servants Award - Dewitt Johnson
Media Award - Double E Promotions