Jackson thanks supporters before recording 25th Annual Stellar Awards on January 16; says it will be 'our best show ever' amid criticism from the gospel industry stemming from questions about the nomination process
By Mona Austin
On January 16, 2010, Central City Productions (CCP) will celebrate 25 years of producing The Stellar Awards, the first and only show that recognizes the contributions of African American gospel artists. But, the path to the company's silver anniversary year has been lined with controversy.
Following the announcement of the 2010 nominees in October various bloggers and members of the gospel industry on social networking sites criticized the company and the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy (SAGMA)-- the voting body for the Stellars-- for alleged inconsistencies in the nominations process. Ultimately, the integrity and reputation of the award show was in question.
Nearly a month later, on November 24 Don Jackson, Founder and Executive Producer of the program issued an open "thank you" letter addressed to fans and supporters. In the letter Jackson indirectly responds to the complaints saying he has taken into consideration input from the gospel industry and outlines measures CCP has taken to improve the nominations process, such as implementing online voting and expanding the submission window among other things. He said he was "elated" by the changes but would continue to welcome constructive feedback. Jackson concluded by declaring The Stellars is God's work and in the name of Jesus "it is done."
The entire letter is reprinted below:
Dear Stellar Awards Fans and Supporters:
As Founder and Executive Producer of the Stellar Awards I want to personally thank you for your overwhelming support of our Awards Program, especially now that we are entering our 25th year Anniversary on National Television with the taping of our show on January 16th, 2010 in Nashville Tennessee at the Grand Ole Opry House. Your dedicated support has enabled us to continue the production of our Stellar Awards on National Broadcast and Cable television, which has resulted in our Stellar Awards attaining the position as the # 1 rated Gospel Music Awards show on television today, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Our continuing mission of the Stellar Awards is to establish an environment through our Awards show where Artists and other Industry Professionals are recognized for their achievement and significant accomplishment in the field of Gospel Music for national recognition; and to support, encourage and promote Gospel Music Worldwide.
Over the 25 year history of the Stellar awards I have openly met with Gospel Music Industry Executives, Artists, the Gospel Music Media outlets and Faith based Institutions in our community, where I have welcomed their suggestions and recommendations on all aspects of our show, to maintain the highest standard and integrity of our production as well as our Entry, Nominating and Balloting policy and procedures. I will continue this open outreach to the Gospel Music Industry in the future, in an effort to improve upon our Stellar Awards production and procedures, and I will always welcome your constructive feedback and recommendations in regards to every aspect of our show.
As a direct result of the constructive feedback of the Gospel Music Industry, from the sources I've identified above, I am pleased to inform you that for our 25th Anniversary Show we implemented several improvements to our Entry, Nominating and Balloting process that we feel strengthened our overall Voting process and made our procedure more open and inclusive, while continuing to maintain the integrity, fairness and highest standards of our overall process for everyone.
The improvements that were implemented included changes in the following areas:
#1. The extension of our Voting Eligibility entry period window to allow additional time for the submission of qualified entries;
#2. Changing our entire Voting procedure to an Online Internet voting process which included Eligibility submissions, and both 1st & 2nd round balloting, versus a mailed hardcopy paper Eligibility submission and ballot process;
#3. Expanding the Charting System to include the entire Nielsen Media Data Systems, which added the Nielsen Broadcast Data System (BDS), versus using only SoundScan and Billboard Charts;
#4. Opening up the first round of our voting process to Fan voting, to have an opportunity to involve Gospel Music Fans in our “Fan Favorite” voting process, without compromising the final voting process of the 2nd ballot by SAGMA members which ultimately determines the final Stellar Award Nominees and winners.
These changes resulted in the following improvements to our overall procedure of:
#1. Giving Record Labels and Artists additional time to submit their entries during an expanded Eligibility window, which resulted in increased submissions
#2. Improved our nominating and voting procedure by going online and eliminating the hardcopy paper Eligibility submissions and ballot, which resulted in an increase in the voting process
#3. Increased the representation from Independent Labels dramatically, by using all of the Nielsen Data Charting systems including Nielsen BDS in the charting system without compromising the integrity of the voting process
#4.Opening the process up to Fan voting in the “Fan's Favorite” categories, which resulted in an overwhelming response from our Gospel Music Fans where we will once again announce our “Fan's Favorite” voting categories at our pre-show awards in the categories of Song of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Choir Of the Year, which does not affect the final voting from the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy (SAGMA) members in these categories.
Based upon the above constructive improvements in the voting procedure we are positively elated with the results and feel that the process is more inclusive and fairer to everyone in the Gospel Music Industry.
I want to mention that our 25th Stellar Awards Anniversary production planned for our taping on Saturday January 16th, 2010 is shaping up to be our best show ever! Please join me and our co-hosts Kirk Franklin, Vickie Winans, and Donnie McClurkin in our celebration of Gospel Music's biggest night...The Stellar Awards.
I greatly appreciate your support over the past 24 years and look forward to your continuing commitment.
Lastly as we prepare for our 25th Anniversary show, I would like for you to join me in prayer as we acknowledge that the Stellar Awards is God’s work! Our goal and mission is to raise Gospel Music to its highest level for the Glory of God. We are invoking God’s presence and guidance as we plan and organize to uplift His name. We are asking you to help us uplift His name. Please join us in prayer to speak the words of love, peace and harmony for the Glory of God throughout our Stellar Awards production. This is God’s work! In the name and through the power that is in the name of Jesus, we declare IT IS DONE! Thank You God!