Michael and Ann Gardner honored with USAGEM Diamond Award
The 12th Annual USAGEM Awards Show was held on Saturday November 21, 2015 at the Texas Troubadour Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee. This yearly event is sponsored by the United States Association Of Gospel Entertainers & Musicians.
Mending Fences opened the show with the upbeat song “Get Up In Jesus’ Name”.
The Fox Brothers were the hosts of the show along with segment co-hosts Melanie Walker, Russ & Linda Murphy, Tommie & Dwayne Lewis, Mona Faith & Tank Tackett, Sheila Berry & Bruce Walker, and
Michael and Ann Gardner were honored with the organization’s prestigious USAGEM Diamond Award for their loyalty, dedication and service to USAGEM. Gardner is a past president and continues his involvement, working with several committees including the overseeing of the USAGEM website.
Rene Jones was the big award winner of the evening, garnering awards for Gospel Entertainer and Male Vocalist Of The Year. He also won the accolades for Video and Song Of The Year for “Thank God For Mama”, a single he recorded with Joanne Cash Yates, and written by gospel music legend and singer/songwriter nominee, Joel Hemphill. Another accolade was with his wife. Rene
and Edie Jones won the Duo Of The Year award for the first time.
The Female Vocalist Of The Year Award went to Sandi Kay Shupe for the second time, and pianist Bud Rawls was the first time winner of the Musician Of The Year Award. Mending Fences, comprised of singers and musicians from the Nashville Cowboy Church, won the Vocal Group Of The Year for the first time.
Roy Fox was the recipient of the Comedian Of The Year and The Reed Brothers took home the award for New Artist Of The Year. Ann Hartmann once again garnered the Singer/Songwriter Of The Year Award.
The two and one-half hour show was intertwined with song performances and award presentations. There were several highlights during the show including a performance by Debbie Bennett and Peggy Inks. Their vocal collaboration tribute to Loretta Lynn and performance of “God Bless
America Again” earned a standing ovation from the audience.
Another vocal collaboration that caught attention from the audience was a performance by Jim Sheldon and Rachel Taylor. They performed their chart-topping single, “New Again. The Gardners honored legendary gospel songwriter and their longtime friend, Carroll McGruder by performing McGruder’s penned upbeat song “It’s Too Good To Be True”. McGruder passed away earlier this year.
One of the emotional highlights of the show was The Fox Brothers’ acknowledgement of USAGEM artists and members who have passed away during the past year. Jimmy Jack Whitaker’s performance
of “He’s Already Made It” was impeccably performed with only his vocal and acoustic guitar. Ed Suey, James Burns, Cheryl Jackson, Thelmarie Johnson, and Sladen Evans were deservingly honored and are truly missed.
A special performance by 9-11 first responder from the New York Fire Department, Frank Pizarro was a definite highlight. He performed a very moving song titled “He’s The Closest Thing To A Hero”. Pizarro is best known for his singing of the National Anthem during national sports events including the final baseball game of this year’s World Series.
During the show Randy & Wendi Pierce performed the gospel classic Rusty Goodman song “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now” and Teresa Johnson performed a moving rendition of the Andre Crouch penned song “My Tribute”.
Other great performers on the show were Melanie Walker, Shelton Bissell, Glenn & Dottie Tubb, Rockin’ Reggie Vinson, Bev McCann, Ann Hartmann, Sandi Kay & New Hickory, and NYU Testament. The show finale was comprised of all of the artists, crew, and cast members performing onstage together. The song “Meet Me At The Pearly Gates” was written and directed by Daniel Johnson. Featured ensemble performers were Charlene Harrison, Cross Pointe, and Sandi Kay Shupe.
Some of the award presenters on the show included: Cross Pointe, Brenda Ivey Robertson, Mariah Neff, Charlene Harrison, Marty Merchant, The Reed Brothers, Laura Mathy, Johnny Mack, Lisa Montgomery, David Smith, Margaret Anne Smith, Jeff Wisely, Cherie Brennan, and Julian & Bonnie George.
This year’s USAGEM award winners:
Gospel Entertainer Of The Year – Rene Jones
Female Vocalist Of The Year – Sandi Kay Shupe
Male Vocalist Of The Year – Rene Jones
Vocal Group Of The Year – Mending Fences
Musician Of The Year – Bud Rawls
Duo Of The Year – Rene & Edie Jones
Singer/Songwriter Of The Year – Ann Hartmann
Comedian Of The Year – Roy Fox
New Artist Of The Year – The Reed Brothers
Video Of The Year – “Thank God For Mama” Rene Jones & Joanne Cash Yates
Song Of The Year – “Thank God For Mama” Rene Jones & Joanne Cash Yates
Diamond Award – Michael & Ann Gardner
Emerald Award – Tammy Vice
Pearl Award – Ray & Laura Lewis
Ruby Award – Julian & Bonnie George
Sapphire Award – Lavonne Ritzema
Christian Country Crown Jewel – The Fox Brothers
Southern Gospel Crown Jewel – Mending Fences
Contemporary Christian Crown Jewel – Rockin’ Reggie Vinson
Black Gospel Crown Jewel – Charlene Harrison
Bluegrass Crown Jewel – Sandi Kay & New Hickory
Servant’s Heart Award – Mariah Neff
Non-Performing Member Award – Dwayne Lewis
Media Award – Perry Edge, Double E Promotions
Radio Servant’s Award – Mona Faith
Film & TV Award – Melanie Walker
Film & TV Award – Jim Sheldon
USAGEM President’s Award – Sandi Kay Shupe