Arguably the biggest night in Christian music, this week Allen Arena hosted the 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. The show recognized winners in 44 categories ranging from gospel and urban to pop and worship as producers, songwriters, vocalists and musicians alike gathered under the same roof to celebrate the best in Christian music this year.
A few hours before the show kicked off in Allen Arena, the exclusive pre-show was held on campus. Hosted by Blanca
and Travis Greene
, this is where the majority of winners are announced. Between handing out awards, performances from artists such as Seth & Nirva
(featuring GabeReal from Tobymac's Diverse City) and The Bowling Family
got the crowd hyped up for the rest of the night. Winners announced during this time included Rock Contemporary Album of the Year (The Wonderlands
by Jon Foreman), Contemporary Gospel Urban Album of the Year (Losing My Religion
by Kirk Franklin), Christmas Album of the Year (Christmas Is Here
by Danny Gokey), Short Form Music Video of the Year ("Live On Forever" by The Afters), Rock Contemporary Song of the Year ("Happiness" by NEEDTOBREATHE) and Inspirational Album of the Year (Brave New World
by Amanda Cook).
Many have followed and been inspired by the heartbreaking yet faith-filled story of Joey and Rory Feek in the past few years. That's why when they won the Dove for Long Form Video of the Year for Hymns That Are Important To Us
in the pre-show, there were few dry eyes in the building-- including mine. Though Rory wasn't there yet to accept the award on stage, those who did gave a beautifully moving speech about what this award means to them and what an honor it is to accept it.
The Red Carpet
After artists finished in the pre-show, they headed over to the red carpet where media was waiting with cameras and questions ready. NRT talked with quite a few excited presenters, performers and nominees (27 to be exact), so be on the lookout for that content rolling out soon on our site and social media. Ryan Stevenson
, Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
, Sadie Robertson, Matthew West
, Steven Curtis Chapman
, Hillary Scott
, Matt Maher
, Jordan Feliz
and Darren Mulligan from We Are Messengers
are just a few of the great artists found on the carpet that night.
The best part of the whole red carpet experience was looking over and seeing artists hugging and catching up. With so many people on the carpet in such a short amount of time, things got a little crazy, but there wasn't a moment the artists weren't making the most of it. It was refreshing to see artists from all different genres and denominations come together and be so genuinely excited to see each other. We asked many on the carpet their favorite part of the whole night, and the majority talked about the spirit of unity in the event and how it's like a big family reunion for the Christian music community. It truly was a beautiful thing to witness.
For a full photo gallery from the red carpet, CLICK HERE.
As everyone took their seats inside the arena for the main show to begin, the excitement grew among the artists. One by one the awards were handed out and speeches of thankfulness given as the front runners were established. Lauren Daigle
swept the night by winning three of her incredible six nominations, including Songwriter of the Year, Pop Contemporary Song of the Year for "Trust In You" and the highest honor of the evening, Artist of the Year. The Artist of the Year win was made even more special by the fact that it was only last year that she took home the trophy for New Artist of the Year.
and Hillsong United
followed with two wins each. Other major awards included Pop Contemporary Artist of the Year going to hosts for KING & COUNTRY
, "Good Good Father" winning Song of the Year and Jonathan David and Melissa Helser's "No Longer Slaves" taking Worship Song of the Year.
Also presented during the show was the SoundExchange Digital Radio Award, a special honor for artists who have reached a billion digital streams. Only previously given to three other artists (Pitbull, Garth Brooks and Justin Timberlake), Chris Tomlin
made history as the first in the CCM genre to be earn this award. In his emotional acceptance speech, Tomlin praised the genre for the great strides it's taking: "What I'm most proud of is what this recognition says about the genre of Christian music. Christian music as a whole is what is being recognized today. This signals that the church is alive and well." For a full list of winners, visit http://doveawards.com/awards/2016-winners/
: Judging by how the audience erupted with applause, I think many would agree with me when I say that watching Jordan Feliz
take home the gold for New Artist of the Year was definitely the highlight of the awards portion. With a category full of deserving nominees and fresh talent, anyone could have won, yet somewhat to his own surprise, it was Jordan who took the honor. It was another emotional moment as labelmate and last year's New Artist Lauren Daigle was the one to present Jordan with the well-earned award.
For a full photo gallery of winners, performers and presenters from the press room, CLICK HERE.
The performance part of the show was mainly led by the worship genre as Bethel Music's "No Longer Slaves," Steven Curtis Chapman's "One True God," We Are Messengers' "Magnify" and Natalie Grant's "King Of The World" filled the arena with powerful lyrics and passionate emotion. Though worship captured the majority of the night, there was also a nice diversity as co-host Tye Tribbet brought the gospel portion and southern gospel group The Issacs led the crowd in a moving hymn medley. Matthew West's medley of "Mended" and "Grace Wins" closed out the night with the crowd on their feet and singing along to every word.
For everyone in the sold-out crowd of Allen Arena that night, I'm sure deciding the highlight was easy. When asked about his performance, TobyMac and his label mates said the same thing: "It's going to be insane. You don't want to miss it." Though people had their speculations, I'm not sure anyone saw a dc Talk reunion coming. However, that's exactly what we witnessed. Toby began with a shortened version of his current radio single "Till The Day I Die" before dimming the lights to show a video of him talking about what the song "Love Feels Like" (which features Michael Tait and Kevin Max) off his last album means to him. I'm not sure the crowd caught on until Michael Tait ran out on stage to join Toby. The excitement filled the room and people sat on the edge of their seats, anxious to find out if this was really about to happen. Halfway through the song, Kevin Max appeared and the room exploded in cheers. The first time all three dc Talk members had performed together in 15 years, this moment was one for the history books. Though I'm sure people were wishing for more than that one song, it was the long-awaited reunion fans have been begging for for over a decade, so who can complain?
Overall, it was a fun night of surprises, worship and community. Indeed a declaration of the unity found in the Christian music industry, catch the show on television this Sunday night (October 16) as it airs exclusively on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST.