Saturday, March 14, 2009

For the first time---cast your vote for the Dove Awards!

Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Fireflight, Marvin Sapp, Third Day, TobyMac and Chris Tomlin have been nominated by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) membership for Artist of the Year at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards on April 23, 2009 in Nashville.

Those artists were among the Dove Award nominees announced at a press conference today at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Information Center. The GMA Dove Awards, gospel music’s biggest night of the year, featuring artists from every style of gospel/Christian music coming together for a night of music and celebration, will be broadcast nationwide live on the Gospel Music Channel from 8 – 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on Thursday, April 23, 2009.

"Christian and gospel music expresses itself in many different ways and we applaud all nominated artists for their unique contributions to the music landscape,” said John W. Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association (GMA). “The powerful messages of redemption, hope and joy found in the music of our Dove nominees come during a season in history when our country and the world need inspiration and encouragement.”

For the first time, fans will become stakeholders in the Dove Awards with an opportunity to vote for the winner of Artist of the Year along with New Artist of the Year, which includes nominees Addison Road, Francesca Battistelli, Fee, Jonathan Nelson, Remedy Drive, Chris Sligh and Tenth Avenue North. Fan voting, which will be conducted through the Gospel Music Channel website ( and at, will open on February 26, the same day online voting opens for GMA members. The cumulative fan vote, which will continue through the live Dove Awards broadcast, will account for one-third of the total vote in those two categories.

The 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards will be handed out at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry House. Tickets to the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards are on sale now at or by calling 615-242-0303.

While the awards are the purpose of the show, music performances will definitely share center stage at the Dove Awards, showcasing some of gospel music’s hottest and most diverse artists. In addition to the exclusive live broadcast, Gospel Music Channel will present back-to-back encore broadcasts that night and additional re-airings following. Gospel Music Channel’s rapid growth has made it the fastest growing network in television for the past two years and GMC is now available in more than 43 million homes in all major markets on the major cable systems as well as on DIRECTV on Channel 338.

The top artist nominee for Dove Awards is current three-time Male Vocalist of the Year Chris Tomlin, whose seven total nominations include Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone).” His latest CD Hello Love was nominated for Praise & Worship Album, while “Jesus Messiah” from that project earned a nomination for Worship Song of the Year. Tomlin was also included in the Special Event Album category for his participation on the Passion: God of This City compilation album and in the Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song category for gospel artist LaRue Howard’s recording of Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God,” which was the 2006 Song of the Year recipient.

Two female artists have the next biggest impact, with Natalie Grant and newcomer Francesca Battistelli each receiving five nominations. Grant, the current three-time Female Vocalist of the Year recipient, receives another nomination in the category, along with a nod for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Relentless, while the No. 1 radio hit from that record, “I Will Not Be Moved” was nominated for Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year. The Grant-penned “Breathe on Me” rounds out her five nominations in the Worship Song of the Year category.

Battistelli, the New York-born singer songwriter and now Dove Award Female Vocalist and New Artist of the Year nominee, burst on the Christian music scene with her summer 2008 hit “I’m Letting Go.” That song has now received Dove Award nominations for Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year, and her debut CD My Paper Heart was nominated for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year.

Four-time Group of the Year Dove Award winners Casting Crowns will go for five with another Group of the Year nomination in 2009. The worship band’s total of five nominations includes Artist of the Year and Christmas Album of the Year for Peace on Earth. Casting Crowns also earned nods for Short Form Video for “Slow Fade” and for Long Form Video for “The Altar and the Door Live.”

Among the other Artist of the Year nominees, Steven Curtis Chapman has previously won this award seven times, the last one in 2000. Chapman, who has been touring with Michael W. Smith on the United Tour, has had renewed spotlight this past year centered on the Song of the Year nominee “Cinderella” which became an anthem for fatherhood not only on Christian radio, but worldwide. “Cinderella” is also nominated for Pop/Contemporary Recorded song and Chapman’s co-write of Bart Millard’s “You Reign” is another Song of the Year nominee.

Fireflight is recognized as Artist of the Year in the first year they have received any Dove Award nominations. The female-fronted (Dawn Richardson) rock band received national exposure as a favorite of TV networks like NBC, ABC and ESPN which have licensed their songs. Fireflight was also named one of the winners of Taco Bell's first "Best of the Beat" fan-voted contest and was named Gospel Music Channel's first "Listen Up Artist" last year. Now, they have four Dove Award nominations including Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year for Unbreakable, Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song for “Unbreakable” and Rock Recorded Song of the Year for “The Hunger.”

Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year nominee Marvin Sapp made history last year when his single "Never Would've Made It," from the gold-selling CD Thirsty, became the longest-running No. 1 single ever across all radio formats, spending a staggering 47 weeks at the top of the gospel radio charts. Earlier this year, Sapp was honored with eight Stellar Awards.

TobyMac, the current Artist of the Year recipient, finds himself nominated again this year. The headliner of the popular Winter Wonder Slam concert series, TobyMac recently won his first solo GRAMMY Award for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album with Alive and Transported. The concert DVD of that CD is also nominated for a Dove Award for Long Form Video of the Year.

Rounding out the Artist of the Year nominees, Third Day earns its nomination after a successful year with the release of Revelation, which is nominated for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year. That CD debuted at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart in July, landing the band on the cover of Billboard magazine. Third Day also toured with Switchfoot, Jars of Clay and Robert Randolph & The Family Band on the "Music Builds Tour" for Habitat for Humanity and performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Other artists receiving four nominations include Brandon Heath, Mary Mary, Laura Story and Michael W. Smith.

Producers and songwriters also enjoyed big nomination success this year with Ian Eskelin (Francesca Battistelli, Remedy Drive) and Wayne Haun (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, HisSong) each receiving eight nods while Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Laura Story) came in with six and Jason Ingram (Brandon Heath, Meredith Andrews) and Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary, Kierra Sheard) each received five nominations.

Announcing the nominations today were Dan and Jackie Evans, the son and mother team from season five of NBC’s reality show “The Biggest Loser.” Additionally, Dan’s debut CD, Goin’ All Out, bowed at #7 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart when it was released last fall. They were joined by Lisa Kimmey, former member of Out of Eden and currently a host/reporter for Gospel Music Channel.

Dove Awards will be handed out in 43 categories. The Songwriter of the Year nominees were not announced today, but will be revealed prior to the GMA Dove Awards. Dove Awards nominations go to recordings released during the eligibility year November 1, 2007 through October 31, 2008 and voted on by the members of the GMA. The complete nominations list is at

The American Bible Society ( is official charity of the GMA.

About GMA:
Founded in 1964, the Gospel Music Association serves as the face and voice for the gospel/Christian music community and is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, black gospel, R&B, hip hop, southern gospel, country, and more. The GMA community consists of more than 3,000 members including agents, artists, church leaders, managers, promoters, radio personnel, record company executives, retailers, songwriters and other industry visionaries. The GMA produces the GMA Dove Awards, GMA Music Week and the GMA Academy. For more information, please visit

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