BOISE, Idaho--Now in its fourth year, the WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS is poised for its biggest year yet, as more songs, artists and albums than ever before are nominated.
Voting is now open for the awards--presented by NewReleaseToday and sponsored by Grand Canyon University's Center for Worship Arts--representing the best Christian music had to offer in the year 2015.
Fans cast nearly 45,000 votes last year, and with a record 78 individual artists nominated this year by the NewReleaseToday staff, the participation aims to be bigger and better than ever.
"Year after year, we continue to see meteoric growth in the WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS," NewReleaseToday President/Founder Kevin McNeese said. "We continue to see Christian music fans get excited about seeing something a little different when it comes to awards in the industry. We bring more--and more diverse--artists into the mix, and fans are responding. We know this year is going to be a big one."
Demonstrating the diversity and breadth of this year's nominations is the fact that there's a five-way tie for the most nominations this year. Fireflight, Hillsong UNITED, Jonathan Thulin, Lauren Daigle and Matt Maher all lead the pack with nominations in four categories each. Eight artists come in second with three nominations each.
Fireflight's first release since becoming newly independent--Innova--made an impact in 2015, fueling nominations for Group of the Year, Best Indie Artist/Group of the Year, Best Collaboration ("Safety" with Stephen Christian) and The BPM Award for Electronic/Dance Album of the Year.
Still riding the smash success of Empires, Hillsong UNITED garnered nominations for some big categories, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Group of the Year, and the brand-new category of Worship Leader of the Year, for which Taya Smith is nominated.
Upon its release in the first half of the year, the NRT staff unanimously agreed Jonathan Thulin's Science Fiction was worthy of a Album of the Year nod. Indeed, the project received that, and led the Swedish-born, former Press Play singer to also get nominated for Male Artist of the Year, The Hook Award (for Pop Album of the Year) and Best Collaboration for his contribution on Rapture Ruckus' "Volcano."
Lauren Daigle burst on the scene in 2015 with her full-length album How Can It Be, and the newcomer is up against some heavy hitters in four big categories, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year ("First"), Female Artist of the Year and the newly reimagined Adult Contemporary/Inspirational Album of the Year category: The Softlight Award.
The album Saints & Sinners brought the Church the Easter song of 2015, "Because He Lives (Amen)," and Matt Maher is riding the momentum of that single with a nomination for the newly created Church Song of the Year category. The album also earned Maher nods for Male Artist of the Year, The Encounter Award (Worship Album of the Year) and Worship Leader of the Year.
EXPLORE THIS YEAR'S NOMINEES
The addition of Worship Leader of the Year and Church Song of the Year doubles the WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS' worship-focused categories, reflective of the exponential growth of worship in Christian music.
"This year's awards has a greater emphasis on worship music, which is growing rapidly every year," said Scott Fehrenbacher, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Center for Worship Arts at Grand Canyon University. "We're excited to partner with the WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS this year because that worship focus lines up with our mission to create the next generation of worship leaders in our new program."
Voting is now open at www.weloveawards.com, where fans can pick their favorites in the 25 categories as many times as they want between now and Jan. 29, 2016. The winners will be announced in February 2016 with a multi-media online event (details to be announced soon).