The mainstays of Christian music – along with several new faces – had a winning night at the 2021 GMA Dove Awards.
After a social distancing ceremony in 2020, the Nashville-based awards show returned to its former glory in front of a packed house at the Allen Arena at Lipscomb University.
The Doves, as they are known, took place last Tuesday, but attendees were urged to keep the show a secret until it airs Friday night on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
For the second year in a row, the night’s biggest honor – Artist of the Year – went to the Nashville rock / pop duo For King & Country.
From the stage, the duo’s Luke Smallbone acknowledged the “bumps” many suffered during the pandemic. For him, it was a throat surgery and a time of uncertainty about his future in the scene.
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That night he said he was “more convinced than ever that the power of music is being transformed”.
“The power of music brings a vocal cord to life. The power of music is changing eternal destinations for people … remember it. Make it a reality for others. Make it a reality everywhere. the world, because it’s important. “
Great evangelist and compatriot CeCe Winans won her second award for Gospel Artist of the Year. She and songwriter / producer Jason Ingram were the biggest winners of the night, each taking home four awards.
Winans’ big win came after her powerful performance of “Believe For It”, when it was billed by co-hosts Natalie Grant and Jonathan McReynolds as “one of the greatest of all time.” Still, she shook her head in disbelief as her name was called out and the rest of the house stood up.
“I want to thank everyone who was in the category with me, and all the artists who are here, the young – and us who are old,” Winans said.
“God is faithful to each generation. And I am just honored to be a part of this industry. I am honored to hold up the name of Jesus.”
It was also an evening for newcomers to shine. All five nominees for New Artist of the Year performed this year, with the award ultimately going to cult Atlanta band Maverick City Music. It was a huge moment for an act that released its debut album in the early weeks of the pandemic.
“We are very honored that you have honored us,” said Naomi Raine of the group. “But I think what’s been most important to us is lifting Jesus up, and just making him the thing. And so our prayer is that every time we go out, that we don’t magnify ourselves. … We want to lift up Jesus. “
Perhaps no new act has had a bigger impact on this year’s Doves than family group We The Kingdom, which consists of songwriter / producer Ed Cash, his brother, two of his children and a family friend.
The Nashville-based group opened the night with the loaded hymn “God So Loved”, as Cash proclaimed, “Tonight is about celebrating Jesus.”
Later, Cash was in tears as the group accepted their first-ever victory for Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year, beating massive acts like For King & Country and Hillsong United.
“It means so much to me, because I have seen God work in my family in a miraculous way,” he said.
Among the dozen performers on this year’s show was Lauren Daigle, a crossover star and an Adele figure in contemporary Christian music. Backed by a choir, she performed “Hold On to Me”, her first new release since her huge 2018 album “Look Up Child”.
Elsewhere, the Doves continued to flaunt their trademark eclecticism, moving from bluegrass / gospel stars (and new Opry members) The Issacs to Florida-based rapper KB, who delivered a fiery climax with his “10k” illuminated by traps. He went on to win the Rap / Hip-Hop Album of the Year award for “His Glory Alone”.
If you missed Friday’s Dove Awards broadcast, the show is available to stream online at watch.tbn.org and the TBN mobile application.
GMA Dove Awards 2021 winners (televised)
Artist of the year: For the king and the country
New Artist of the Year: Maverick city music
Gospel Artist of the Year: CeCe Winans
Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year: We the kingdom
Song of the year: “The blessing”
Song of the year recorded for worship: “Graves Into Gardens” by Elevation Worship ft. Brandon lake
Songwriter of the Year (Artist): Brandon Lake
Southern Gospel Artist of the Year: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Inspirational Film of the Year: “A week away”
Rap / Hip-Hop Album of the Year: “His glory alone”, KB
Southern Gospel Album of the Year: “Change is coming”, Joseph Habedank