Scouting The 2012 Dove Awards - Part 4
Members of the NRT staff chime in about their picks for the 2012 Dove Awards, as well as who they think will walk away with the awards.

The Oscars are long over, March Madness has come to an abrupt close, and April Fool's has come and gone.

What's left to obsess over? The 2012 GMA Dove Awards, of course!

That's right, the Gospel Music Association's annual honoring of Christian music's best is just around the corner--Thursday, April 19 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

NRT will have more coverage leading up to the awards including commentary, wrap ups and professional photos as we get ready to report backstage from Christian music's biggest night!

This week, we continue our series of roundtable opinions regarding the various award categories

NRT Founder Kevin McNeese, Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock, Lead Contributor Kevin Davis and Staff Contributors Sarah Fine and Mary Burklin all weigh in on who should win and who will win for Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year, Special Event Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, and Short Form Video of the Year.

As always, feel free to weigh in on your picks by submitting a comment below. And click here to access the rest of our Roundtable discussions on this year's nominees.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae 
I said it a few weeks ago and I'll say it again. Lecrae will be the artist that ushers in Christian Hip Hop into the mainstream. It's by tapping on the door for years now, but Lecrae has had the right music at the right time, invading CCM tours, radio and already the go-to guest artist of 2012. This momentum leaves little doubt this award is his in the bag.

Marcus Hathcock: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
With Lecrae lending his rhymes to just about everybody releasing a new album these days, this is seemingly a safe choice, but the reality is, nobody’s quite broken through the way Lecrae has with regard to Christ-honoring rap. FLAME is hot on Lecrae’s tail, followed by strong albums by Tedashii and Da T.R.U.T.H. But there’s no question--nobody has the production quality, artistic integrity and mass appeal as Lecrae right now.

Sarah Fine: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
While it almost seems like Lecrae’s sudden rise in the music industry came overnight, longtime fans of the gifted rapper know that his success was many years in the making. In 2011, Lecrae brought us The Overdose, the follow up remix project to his smash album, Rehab. The album went on to become another project in itself and furthered what seemed to be an unrelenting fan base. If these last 12 months are any indication of where the future of hip-hop is going, CCM is in for an awakening… and we have artists like Lecrae to thank for that. If anyone deserves this win in 2012, it’s Lecrae.

Kevin Davis: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
Great album and of the nominated selections, the best choice.

Mary Burklin:
  Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae 
Even as someone without any background in hip-hop, I can’t get enough of Lecrae. That is ultimately one of his primary draws-- he has effectively broken out of the subgenre of Christian Hip-Hop and reached a wider appeal. Tedashii is a close runner-up for me here.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae 
Rap it up for Lecrae. See what I did there?

Marcus Hathcock: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
For all the reasons mentioned above, anything short of a Lecrae win here would be an upset.

Sarah Fine: Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
Everyone in this category has a fighting chance, but I think Lecrae has the most “star power” of all the nominees. And let’s be honest, it’s time this guy got his dues. He worked hard on this project and it shows in every aspect. I’d be happy if anyone in this category won, but I’d be thrilled if it was Lecrae.

Kevin Davis: 
Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae
After getting shut out of last year’s awards, it’s time to make it right. This album is the best choice and truly Rehab deserved this award last year. I’m voting Lecrae.

Mary Burklin:
  Rehab:The Overdose by Lecrae 
Although all of the artists on this list are strong and have made progress in the last year, none of them have quite as much weight behind them as Lecrae. Rehab: The Overdose was very successful, and with good reason.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists 
Considering I haven't heard of half these releases, I can only assume this is going to be a two way race between Passion and The Story. Both are well deserving, but in the age of digital singles, The Story is an even more ambitious effort than even a few years ago, and was pulled off incredibly well. These types of albums are quickly becoming a rariety in our industry and I'd love to see them continue.

Marcus Hathcock: Here For You by Passion
This was easily the most powerful Passion album in my opinion, and one that has provided plenty of worship songs for the Church, including “Waiting Here For You”, “Shadows”, “Set Free”, “Forever Reign” and “Always.” These projects continue to serve as the songbook for Western believers, and Here For You perhaps the most of all. This connection to daily, local Christianity deserves the award.

Sarah Fine: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists
This is the first time ever where I will paying a lot of attention to this category. Bernie Herms and Nichole Nordeman delivered one of the strongest albums of 2011 with The Story--a modern day re-telling of the Bible--from Genesis to Revelation--through song. To get artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Jeremy Camp, Lecrae, Michael Tait, Leigh Nash, Mac Powell, Mark Hall, Amy Grant, Francesca Battistelli and a plethora of others all onto one album is an accomplishment in itself, but to have the end result be one of the most artistic, memorable and moving compellation pieces CCM has ever seen? That deserves to be recognized.

Kevin Davis: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists
I couldn’t ask for a more perfect combination of my loves to intertwine than to have a two disc compilation featuring twenty-four artists and eighteen songs inspired directly from The Bible called Music Inspired by The Story. This is a five star compilation that needs to be heard and experienced until He comes back. If this album doesn’t win this award, I’ll be shocked and majorly disappointed. If it doesn’t win, I may even “flip over tables” in righteous anger.

Mary Burklin:
 Here For You by Passion 
Each year, there are few albums as eagerly anticipated as the annual Passion compilation. 2011’s offering was incredibly strong throughout. 

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists 
Considering the star power behind this release, I'm guessing it will benefit from many industry insiders supporting the artists they work with. (That doesn't really happen though, does it?) It's about as close to "star power" as our industry will ever get.

Marcus Hathcock: Here For You by Passion
While The Story album is a very, very strong one, I have a hard time seeing anyone unseating Passion, which is as popular and impactful as ever--with no signs of slowing down.

Sarah Fine: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists
There will be random heavy objects hurled across my room if this project doesn’t win the Dove Award the night of the ceremony. Enough said.

Kevin Davis: Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists
Music Inspired by The Story is stunning, prayerful and a perfect devotional companion for anyone who wants to grow closer to God by immersing themselves through music into the lives of biblical characters. It’s been said that people remember songs longer than they remember sermons, and as a music fanatic who loves The Bible, this is a marriage made in Heaven for me. You can’t help but want to know God more deeply after this worshipful experience.  

Mary Burklin:  Music Inspired by The Story by Various Artists 
With a star-studded cast from some of the biggest groups in the CCM industry, this album was one to pay attention to last year. And many certainly did pay attention to it. Although I think Passion has a good shot at this one too, The Story seems to pull a bit more weight, particularly with the success of the following tour.


Who Should Win

Marcus Hathcock: Ed Cash
I’m a fan of Ed’s work with Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Jimmy Needham, Dave Barnes and many more. These are legit artists with some fantastic releases, and there’s a reason Ed’s won this before.

Sarah Fine: Bernie Herms, Brown Bannister
I really would have liked to have seen Seth Mosley and Juan Otero nominated this year for their phenomenal work on Newsboys' Born Again project, especially since the two produced yet another mega hit with “Save Your Life” on the expanded edition last year. Regardless, Bernie Herms and Brown Banister, who worked feverishly on “I’m With You”--a duet between Amy Grant and Nicole Nordeman for The Story project--rightfully deserve this award in 2012.

Kevin Davis: Bernie Herms, Brown Bannister
I’m not sure why both producers are listed together here, but Bernie Herms should win for producing Music Inspired by The Story and Brown Bannister for producing Response by Phil Wickham.

Mary Burklin: Ian Eskelin
With a hand in some of the major albums of last year in a wide range of areas (from Francesca Battistelli to Hawk Nelson), Ian Eskelin has easily earned this award. 

Who Will Win

Marcus Hathcock: Ed Cash Ed Cash has won the award four times--2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007--and with another strong Chris Tomlin release on the books, it’s easy to see the GMA begin another string of wins for this phenomenal producer.

Sarah Fine: Bernie Herms, Brown Bannister
Ian Eskelin might be another one to keep your eye on for his production on Francesca Battistelli’s Hundred More Years, but as an avid believer in The Story album, I hope to see this award go to the two who have worked so hard to deserve it.

Kevin Davis: Ed Cash

Call this the “Chris Tomlin” factor. Ed’s got the biggest name and track record in this category having produced Tomlin’s GRAMMY-winning album, along with Aaron Shust’s latest album. Tough competition against Bernie Herms, and multi-award winning Ian Eskelin (Francesca Battistelli and Dara Maclean) is actually my choice but I think his streak will be broken this year.

Mary Burklin: Bernie Herms
Bernie Herms added some impressive credits to his name this past year. His involvement with The Story alone probably qualifies him for this award. 


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: "Babylon" by Jonathan Thulin (not nominated)
One of my favorite categories, but I have to mention the absence of one of the most powerful videos I've ever seen, "Babylon" from Jonathan Thulin. Seriously, if you haven't seen this masterpiece, stop reading and go check this out. Whether it was the label not submitting, or the voters not recognizing, a gigantic boat was missed. And even though he's not nominated, I refuse to say any of these videos should win over that one. Yes, I'm not playing by the rules here. Oh well.

Marcus Hathcock: 
“Feed the Machine” by RED Oh man, this was a tough call, because I easily could’ve voted for the boldly personal “7x70” by Chris August. Ultimately I think RED deserves it because they created this fantastic storyline, metaphor and visual masterpiece with “Feed the Machine.” I thought their video for “Ordinary World” was the best Christian music video I’d ever seen until this one. Major kudos though to Chris August.

Sarah Fine: “Feed the Machine” by RED
For a number of years, it seemed like music videos were a dying art in Christian music. The years 2006-2009 brought us very little to choose from on all fronts. As of late however--thanks to a new batch of visionary directors as well as a passion by artists to see a resurrection--the video climate is now thriving. One highlights to be recognized among many is RED’s 2011 video for their song, “Feed The Machine.” The band, who wrote the nearly eight-minute video themselves, delivered what has to be one of the most artistic and creative music videos I’ve ever seen. I love it when a video truly becomes a story in itself, and RED more than accomplished that with this. They deserve this Dove in 2012--no question about it.

Kevin Davis: “Miracles” by Newsboys
Fantastic music video for an incredible song. Since “Born Again” was nominated a year late and is against incredibly tough competition, maybe this is the award that Newsboys can win to acknowledge their amazing album.

Mary Burklin: "Feed The Machine" by RED
There seems to have been less and less interest in making story music videos in the past few years, despite the fact that fans tend to like them most. This is one of the few music videos I have seen in the past few years that could almost stand alone as a short film, making it a beautiful film piece more than just a visual to accompany the song. Red pulled out all the stops on this one, and it shows. I could easily go for Tenth Avenue North in this category as well though, and I would have liked to see Jonathan Thulin’s somewhat underground but fantastic video “Babylon” nominated.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: “7x70” by Chris August 
I'll get back on track here and predict that "7x70" will win. It has the emotional punch from an artist that really took the awards by storm last year. This award should keep him company as he prepares for his sophomore release in the fall.

Marcus Hathcock: “7x70” by Chris August I just don’t see the GMA crowd voting for RED, even though it’s the best one here, so I’ll instead predict a Chris August win. His very personal story was captured well in the video, which really bolstered the song itself. The song and the subject matter will ultimately win out with voters.

Sarah Fine: “7x70” by Chris August
The GMA loves Chris August, if that wasn’t made clear in 2011, I’m not sure it ever will be. Chris’ powerful video for “7x70”--shot in his childhood home where a majority of the song is set--is really all he did besides tour after sweeping the awards last year. While I’ll argue RED deserves the win, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s really the only category where Chris would fairly deserve to win himself.

Kevin Davis: “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North
This is actually a great choice. The song is incredibly stirring and so is the music video. The band has a proven track record with Song and New Artist of the Year wins and this song deserves an award.
Mary Burklin: “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North
Although there are much bigger names in the running, I feel like this has the best pairing of overall familiarity and quality. Tenth Avenue North’s beautiful piece is well made, has an emotional pull, and is backed by a strong single. All of those will be helpful factors (though there’s still a chance bigger names like Newsboys or Tomlin could take this home).

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