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Gospel awards honor area singing talent

People came from all around to take part in the area’s firstgospel awards music show Saturday, and to pay tribute to one ofSouthwest Mississippi’s own gospel greats.

Regional and state celebrities, as well as local publicofficials were on hand to present awards in 29 categories duringthe 2007 South Mississippi Gospel Music Awards program at AlexanderJunior High School. The event was sponsored by the “O” Foundation,The Bank of Brookhaven and other local businesses.

A lifetime achievement award was presented to Brookhavenresident Lillian Lilly, who is a member of the Mississippi MassChoir and a national recording artist.

“For our first time, it was wonderful,” said Rose “Polly”Powell, one of the show’s organizers.

The show, patterned after the Grammys Awards, featured gospelradio personalities Lance Fuller and George Winford as masters ofceremonies. Tonya Jones was the show’s producer.

Approximately 650 people attended the ceremony, said Powell.

The show featured performances from several local individuals,as well as Lillian Lilly.

DVDs of the awards show will be available in about a week,Powell said. They can be purchased from Polly’s Restaurant or froman “O” Foundation member.

Powell said that nominees came from five counties around LincolnCounty.

Lee King, president of Blackberry Records, used the event toscout new talent for the record label.

“He will use the Southwest Mississippi Gospel Music Awards as anavenue for scouting talent for the record label,” Powell said.

King took the opportunity to sign Female Vocalist of the Year,Sharnwanika Cotton, to a recording contract, according toPowell.

“We’ve got the bugs worked out now,” Powell said. “We’ll have amuch better show next year.”

Each category winner was presented with an 8-inch angel statue.The winners for this year include:

* Contemporary Female Gospel Artist of the Year– Linda Lilly, of Brookhaven.

* Contemporary Christian Female Artist of theYear -Sharlene Banks, of Wesson.

* Contemporary Male Gospel Artist of the Year -Shannon Webb, of Brookhaven.

* Christian Female Artist of the Year – ReneeColtran, of Brookhaven.

* Traditional Gospel Group/Duo of the Year -The Harmoniques (Monte’ Washington), of Brookhaven.

* Contemporary Christian Group/Duo of the Year-Redeemed, of Monticello

* Contemporary Gospel Group of the Year – YoungChristian Travelers, of Monticello.

* Traditional Gospel Female Artist of the Year– Maxine Moore, of Brookhaven.

* Traditional Gospel Male Artist of the Year -Rev. L.C. Williams, of Bude.

* Traditional Christian Artist of the Year -Karen Sterling, of Brookhaven.

* Children’s Performance of the Year – Lare’lJohnson, of Brookhaven.

* Children’s Musician of the Year – XavierLilly, of Brookhaven.

* Children’s Praise and Worship of the Year -Steppers for Christ, of Roxie.

* Adult Praise and Worship of the Year -Macedonia M.B. Praise Team, of Brookhaven.

* Choir of the Year – Pine Grove M.B. ChurchChoir, of McComb.

* Contemporary Gospel Choir of the Year – NewZion M.B. Church Choir, of Prentiss.

* Traditional Choir of the Year – True GospelMass Choir, of McComb.

* Gospel Male Choir of the Year – St. PeterRock M.B. Church, of Wesson.

* Entertainer of the Year – the Rev. WaldoLilly Jr., of Brookhaven.

* Songwriter of the Year – Renee Coltran, ofBrookhaven.

* Radio Announcer of the Year – Gaye Laird -Gospel Giant, of Brookhaven.

* Radio Station of the Year – WCHJ, ofBrookhaven.

* Male Vocalist of the Year – the Rev. ChuckMcCall, of McComb.

* Female Vocalist of the Year – SharnwanikaCotton, of Tylertown.

* Male Director of the Year – ArlustraHenderson Jr., of Brookhaven.

* Female Director of the Year – Tonya Jones, ofBrookhaven.

* Male Musician of the Year – Harvey Young, ofPrentiss.

* Female Musician of the Year – Ella Henderson,of Brookhaven.

* Pastoral Artist of the Year – the Rev. LarryJointer, of Brookhaven.