The people of God kicked off All-Star Weekend 2015 last Friday with the 10th Annual All-Star Gospel Celebration at the Apollo Theater in New York City, where rounds of applause and cherished moments filled the historic aisles in recognition of the hard work and dedication of those who’ve set out to fulfill His will.
The gospel celebration welcomed award-winning gospel artists such as Vickie Winans and Donnie McClurkin, plus a number of NBA players, their wives and a few local movers and shakers.
Honorees for this event included ESPN’s Chris Broussard; the late NBA vet Caldwell Jones; NBA wife and Honey Shine Mentoring Program Founder Tracy Mourning; Dahntay Jones of the LA Clippers and his wife/WEEN founder Valeisha Butterfield-Jones; Pastor Donnie McClurkin; former NBA player Etan Thomas and his wife Nichole Thomas; Bishop Roderick Caesar of Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Queens; “The Cookie Lady” Lauretta Pierce; and Pastor Michael A. Walrond of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.
Winans, who hosted the midday gathering, opened it up with a warm heart, smiling face, a lot of jokes, and a handful of church mints in her pocket. The awards started flowing afterwards—first with the Butterfields, who were honored for their community reach (“The Girlprint,” Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, clinic in Brooklyn). Mourning was later honored for her mentoring program centered around inspiration, compassion and empowerment. And Roland Martin introduced Thomas, who was honored for his voice that spoke truth and faith while debating at the Capital during the war against Iraq.
Many more inspirational stories followed, but in between presenting awards, gospel music powerhouses shook up the stage individually with one of their biggest hits. Musical acts included Andrea McClurkin, Kevin Levar, Jamie Grace, Judith Gayle, Bizzle, Micah Stampley, Bryan Popin, Angella Christie, Shirley Caesar and Danny Gokey. Winans even sang a little throughout the celebration, surprising the crowd with her live version of “Long as I Got King Jesus.”