The 40th Annual Dove Awards took place recently in Nashville with Steven Curtis Chapman being honored as Artist of the Year. Brandon Heath and worship band Casting Crowns earned the most awards for the night. Tenth Avenue North received the Dove Award for New Artist. Both Artist of the Year and New Artist for the first time were voted on by both the gospel/Christian music industry and the fans.
Televised live on the Gospel Music Channel and held at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, this year’s Dove Awards spread the love around like never before, with more than 75 artists, songwriters and producers receiving Dove trophies, including 38 out of the 43 award categories featuring different recipients. A complete list of all winners is avaiable atwww.gospelmusic.org
“Many different artists have obviously connected with people in powerful ways this year as evidenced by last night’s impressive number of singular honorees. The list of Dove Award recipients is very culturally and musically diverse, yet together they reveal the unique ability for gospel and Christian music to reach across cultural, religious and generational divides to encourage and inspire with the good news of the Gospel,” said John W. Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and executive producer of the Dove Awards in a press release.
This year’s Dove Awards show offered a powerful picture of Christian/gospel music’s appreciation for the past and embrace of the future. Southern gospel music icon Bill Gaither earned a Dove Award in 2009, 40 years after he received his first at the inaugural Dove Awards ceremony in 1969. The show’s musical performances continued the theme with moving tributes to legendary artists and performances from several New Artist of the Year nominees.
The Dove Awards featured nothing but unforgettable performances, starting with urban gospel duo Mary Mary’s high energy rendition of their Dove Award-winning Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song “Get Up.” It culminated with GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame members and double Dove Award winners the Blind Boys of Alabama bringing a New Orleans jazz sound to “Free At Last,” with special guest Mac Powell (of Third Day) who then introduced a final celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Oh Happy Day,” the 18th century hymn which became gospel music’s first mainstream crossover hit when it was arranged and recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Hawkins himself was joined onstage by a group of artists including Donnie McClurkin and American Idol finalists Mandisa and Phil Stacey and Gospel Dream Winner Melinda Watts.
The Dove Award recipients in the overall categories were:
Artist of the Year – Steven Curtis Chapman
New Artist of the Year – Tenth Avenue North
Song of the Year -- “Give Me Your Eyes”; songwriters Brandon Heath and Jason Ingram
Songwriter of the Year -- Steven Curtis Chapman
Male Vocalist of the Year -- Brandon Heath
Female Vocalist of the Year -- Natalie Grant
Group of the Year -- Casting Crowns
Steven Curtis Chapman, who is used to making Dove Awards history, having already received more Dove Awards than any other artist in the awards show’s 40 years, was named Artist of the Year for the seventh time and Songwriter of the Year for the 10th time. His 2008-09 worldwide hit “Cinderella” not only brought Chapman praise for his always consummate songwriting skills, it became a worldwide hit and sentimental favorite because of the tragic loss he and his family experienced nearly a year ago, when five-year-old Maria, one of three Chinese-adopted daughters who inspired “Cinderella,” died in an accident. Introduced by current tour mate Michael W. Smith and joined on stage in his band by sons Will Franklin and Caleb, Chapman’s performance of “Cinderella” brought the audience to tears and to their feet.