On June 7, rapper and producer Kanye West was awarded songwriter of the year at the 2021 BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards. He received the win for his hit songs, “Hands On,” “On God” and “Selah.” The songs are featured on West’s ninth studio album, Jesus Is King, which also won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Music Album.
According to Billboard, “these are West’s first three Trailblazer Awards, adding to his collection of 38 BMI Awards.” For the song “Hands On,” West collaborated with gospel great Fred Hammond and landed on Billboard’s Christian, Gospel, R&B/Hip-Hop, and Hot 100 charts. “Selah” was also featured in the Top 20 Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated as the or top gospel song at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.
“Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus),” written by Donald Lawrence and Sir the Baptist ft. Leandria Johnson was also awarded Song of The Year. The record spent 99 weeks on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart, peaking at number one and winning the prized GMA Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year. In 2015, Lawrence was awarded for gospel song, “The Gift,” and was one of the 2009 Trailblazers of Gospel Music honorees.
Lawrence shared the exciting news on his social media. “Thank you to my @bmi family 🙏🏾Posted @withregram • @bmi Sending a huge congratulations to @DonaldLawrence and @SirTheBaptiston winning Song of The Year for “Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus)” at our Trailblazers of Gospel Awards! #BMIGospel🏆💜”
Publisher of the Year went to Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing. They represent three of BMI’s 20 most-performed gospel songs: “I Made It Out,” written and performed by Pastor John P. Kee featuring Zacardi Cortez; “Keep the Faith,” written and performed by Charles Jenkins; and “Won’t Let Go,” written and performed by Travis Greene.
The BMI Trailblazers also celebrated the 20 most performed gospel songs of 2020. This year’s group of songwriters includes 19 first-time Trailblazer Award winners including Zacardi Cortez, Cydel C. Young, Renee Spearman, Terrence “Pusha T” Thorton, Natalie Lauren Simms, and Allison Jeffrey LaValley.
Catherine Brewton, vice president creative, Atlanta spoke about the awardees. “It is always an honor to celebrate BMI’s incredible community of gospel music songwriters…their artistry is a gift through which we find the strength to persevere in the face of adversity and the words to rejoice in moments of worship.”