1) Marvin Sapp: No surprise here. The Zomba Gospel artist dominated the charts all year long! With the ubiquitous single “Never Would Have Made It” he singlehandedly took over the gospel singles, album and airplay charts and with a few days left in the year, it’s still got a lot of life left in it.
2) Lecrae: LeCrae’s “Rebel” made history in October. His latest release clenched its place in gospel music history as the 1st Holy Hip-Hop album to ever debut atop Billboard’s Top Gospel Charts. In addition, this marks the first time a Holy Hip-Hop release has ever taken the coveted top spot on the charts. Rebel also debuted at #2 on the Top Christian & Gospel Albums charts and #60 on Billboard’s Top 200 Charts, outselling albums from Tina Turner, LL Cool J, Raphael Saadiq, The Jonas Brothers, and Usher.
3) James Fortune: In the world of radio, “I Trust You” from Houston-area native James Fortune & FIYA is celebrating its 18th consecutive week as the top song in Gospel radio. This ties “The Blessing of Abraham” from Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers as the second longest running #1 single at Gospel radio.
4) Mary Mary: Congratulations to Mary Mary, whose latest release The Sound has made major moves on the Billboard charts. The album debuted atop both the Top Gospel Charts and the Top Christian and Gospel Albums Charts. In addition, they debuted at #2 on the Top R&B Hip-Hop Albums Charts and #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts, marking the highest ranking gospel debut of 2008 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.
5) Shekinah Glory Ministry: As church choirs go, very few see the light of day with chart success and record sales. With their sophomore release, Shekinah Glory Ministry LIVE, they have been certified gold by RIAA. (Gold certification denotes album sales of 500,000 units.) This marks the second gold certification for the Illinois-based choir, with their debut release Praise Is What I Do also receiving that honor.
6) Merche Moore: You may not know her name but EMI is banking that you will want to! EMI Gospel has signed teen vocalist Merche Moore as one of the label’s first digitally exclusive artists. Her first single, “You’re The One” released to all digital outlets on July 22, 2008 and is produced by Grammy-nominated producer David “DaMonsta” Lynch. Digital distribution is poised to change the game. Nods to EMI and Ms. Moore for leading the pack.
7) Jonathan Nelson: Songwriter/Artist had a banner year. His debut national release, Right Now Praise validates him not only as a songwriter, but an artist. After of years of penning hits for the likes of Donald Lawrence, Youthful Praise, TD Jakes, Youth for Christ, and Larry Potter, he proves he’s no fly-by-night.
8) Hezekiah Walker: Came out strong late in the year with a strong follow-up release and hot single “Souled Out”. He also, launched his radio career on New York 1190WLIB and its bubbling strong that syndication is brewing.
9) Rev. Timothy Wright: Just Because.
10) Dr. Bobby Jones: Dr. Bobby Jones was commissioned by the White House to travel to China for the 2008 Olympic Games. Jones, who is serving his second term as Ambassador of Dominica, served in his diplomatic position and interviewed Olympic athletes for his TV programs. Notably those shows are on THREE different networks – BET, Gospel Music Channel, and The Word Network. Jones also recently concluded tapings for the 29th season of Bobby Jones Gospel and released two projects this year.