Kanye West was named songwriter of the year at the 2021 BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards, which were announced on Monday (June 7). West received the honor for writing the award-winning gospel songs “Hands On,” “On God” and “Selah.” The songs appear on his ninth studio album, Jesus Is King, which won a Grammy in March for best contemporary Christian music album.
These are West’s first three Trailblazer Awards, adding to his collection of 38 BMI Awards from their R&B/Hip-Hop, Pop and London events. West collaborated with gospel great Fred Hammond on “Hands On,” which landed on Billboard’s Christian, Gospel, R&B/Hip-Hop and Hot 100 charts. “Selah” broke into the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for top gospel song at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, where it competed against “On God.”
“Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus),” written by Donald Lawrence and Sir the Baptist, was awarded song of the year. Performed by Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers with Le’Andria Johnson, the song won the GMA Dove Award for traditional gospel recorded song of the year. This is the eighth BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Award for Lawrence; the first for Sir the Baptist. Lawrence was previously awarded gospel song of the year in 2015 for “The Gift” and was also one of the 2009 Trailblazers of Gospel Music honorees.
Publisher of the Year went to Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing for representing 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.
In addition to the major award winners, BMI honored 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.
“It is always an honor to celebrate BMI’s incredible community of gospel music songwriters,” said Catherine Brewton, vice president creative, Atlanta. “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.”
These winners were announced today on BMI.com and across the company’s social media platforms. BMI created a special page featuring performances and first-hand accounts of the songwriting process behind some of the award-winning songs, as well as special messages from the winners.