Newcomers honored at 41st Dove Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Relative newcomers picked up top honors at the 41st annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards April 21 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn.

"On behalf of the membership of the Gospel Music Association, we are fortunate to have such immense creative talent sharing the Gospel through music," Ed Leonard, chairman of the GMA board, said.

Casting Crowns, an established group of youth leaders from Atlanta, won their first Artist of the Year award after multiple nominations and four consecutive wins as Group of the Year.

The group continues to be one of the nation's top-selling artists across all genres, with its recent album "Until the Whole World Hears" debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, GMA noted.

Another highlight of the evening was when Michael W. Smith assembled nearly 30 artists on stage to sing "Come Together Now," a song he wrote as a tribute to Haiti relief. The song was introduced by Franklin Graham.

Also, former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks performed, as did legends BeBe and CeCe Winans, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, tobyMac and others.

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville described gospel music as "a segment of the music landscape clearly in transition." Brandon Heath, who won his second consecutive male vocalist award, identified what he called "a changing of the guard," alluding to new artists taking on more prominent roles.

"We have this unique opportunity to lead in unconventional ways," Heath said.

NEEDTOBREATHE won the most awards. The crossover group received honors for Group of the Year, rock/contemporary song for "Lay 'Em Down" and rock/contemporary album for "The Ousiders."

Newcomer Francesca Battistelli won her first female vocalist award, and Sidewalk Prophets won New Artist of the Year after nearly 100,000 fans voted via text or Web for that category, along with Artist of the Year.

Jennie Lee Riddell won the Songwriter of the Year honor. She wrote "Revelation Song," which was recorded by Phillips, Craig & Dean as well as Kari Jobe and won worship song of the year.

Song of the Year was "By Your Side" by Mike Donehey, Phillip LaRue and Jason Ingram and performed by Tenth Avenue North. Producer of the Year went to Jason Ingram and Rusty Varenkamp.

The Dove Awards' opening ceremonies featured the presentation of 37 of the evening's 43 awards at the Opry complex's Acuff Theater before the show moved to the Opry House for the televised portion.

The awards will air Sunday, April 25 from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time on the Gospel Music Channel.

For a complete list of award winners, visit gospelmusic.org.


Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.

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