Although winning a Dove for a Christian music artist at the 35th annual GMA Music Awards is equivalent to winning a Grammy in the secular music world, there is something essentially different about the music Christians sing. Even if the songs Christian music artists sing today don’t carry the word “God” or “Jesus” in the lyrics, the Gospel message of faith, hope, and love still find its way to the music.
"The GMA Music Awards does what no other awards show does; it celebrates a tapestry of artists and music that share one common thread ... hope," John W. Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association and executive producer of the awards show, said.
The sold-out award ceremony for the GMA Music Awards, formerly known as the Dove Awards, took place in the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. ‘CBS Sports’ personality Deion Sanders and Gospel singer Yolanda Adams hosted the event, which opened with a showing of an act from "!Hero The Rock Opera," a portrayal of a modern-day Jesus starring Michael Tait of dc Talk, Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline and Rebecca St. James, among others.
Many of the nabbed Doves in the top award categories were fresh new acts such as MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Stacie Orrico, and Switchfoot.
MercyMe was awarded Group of the Year and Artist of the Year, and their hit "Word of God Speak", which they performed during show, was named Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year.
Just like the band’s songs that are focused on things from above, their reflection upon receiving the two top honors was no different.
"The good news is none of this overshadows what Christ has done for us,” said MercyMe’s lead singer Bart Millard upon accepting the Group of the Year award.
Upon taking the stage again to accept the Artist of the Year award, Millard spoke on behalf of the group and said, "People always ask us why we signed up for Christian music. We do this not because someone got to us at an early age but because Jesus is the only thing that has ever changed our lives."
Jeremy Camp can testify to God’s life-changing work as well. Discussions on Christian music websites predicted Millard would take home a Dove for Male Vocalist of the Year but Camp surprised the audience by only winning New Artist of the Year award and taking home the coveted title of Male Vocalist of the Year.
"I really did not expect it, especially the last one," he told the media backstage. "It's such a blessing to see what God's done in my life, how He's restored my life and brought me to this point."
Orrico claimed 3 Doves. She was named Female Artist of the Year, her self-titled sophomore project grabbed the Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year award, and the music video for “(There’s Gotta Be) More to Life” was awarded as the Short Form Video of the Year.
Another a huge winner was rock band Switchfoot who won in there categories as a group. “Ammunition” was named Rock Recorded Song of the Year and “Meant to Live” made the Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year. The group also won Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year for "The Beautiful Letdown."
Switchfoot’s lead singer Jonathan Foreman won for three Doves for co-writing and co-producing songs on the album.
The Dove awards recognized talents from 44 different categories in all genres of Gospel music.
Presenting for this year’s award ceremony were Stephen Baldwin, Tennessee Titans player Derrick Mason, 13-year-old shark attack victim Bethany Hamilton and former TV talent search competitors Kristy Starling, R.J. Helton and LaShell Griffin.
The show and backstage interviews hosted by Rebecca St. James were broadcasted live by Regal Entertainment Group Theatres. Theatergoers who paid $10 a ticket received an official commemorative program.
A later broadcasting of the show will be available on the UPN network May 28 at 8 p.m. EST.