NASHVILLE, Tenn. Brandon Heath, Casting Crowns and Steven Curtis Chapman took home the most metal April 23 at the 40th annual GMA Dove Awards, though the bigger winner appeared to be the industry itself with the remainder of the awards being spread across an unusually high number of single-entry winners.
Brandon Heath, last year's New Artist of the Year, won for Song of the Year with Jason Ingram for "Give Me Your Eyes," which also took home honors in the Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song category. Heath was also named Male Vocalist of the Year.
Casting Crowns, which emerged on the award circuit in 2005, had 10 awards heading into the night, including Group of the Year. They kept the Group of the Year streak alive this year, earning their fifth straight award in that category. They also won for Christmas Album of the Year with Peace on Earth. Their third honor came for Short Form Music Video of the Year for "Slow Fade."
Steven Curtis Chapman, who has more Dove Awards than any other performer, added two more with Artist of the Year, his seventh, and Songwriter of the Year, his 10th.
Jeff and Sheri Easter brought home two awards for Bluegrass Album of the Year for We Are Family and Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year for "They're Holding Up the Ladder.
The remaining winners brought home one award each, including Natalie Grant for Female Vocalist of the Year, her fourth straight; Tenth Avenue North for New Artist of the Year; the multi-artist project Passion: God of This City for Special Event Album of the Year; and Chris Tomlin for Praise & Worship Album of the Year with Hello.
Other perennial winners included Michael W. Smith for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year with "A New Hallelujah;" Third Day for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year with Revelation; Gaither Vocal Band for Southern Gospel Album of the Year with Lovin' Life; and Kirk Franklin with Urban Album of the Year for The Fight of My Life.
The show, broadcast live from the Grand Ole Opry House on the Gospel Music Channel, included live performances by Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Brandon Heath, Mary Mary, Third Day, Chris Tomlin, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Kierra Sheard and Sandi Patty.
The show included a tribute to the late Dottie Rambo, a Southern Gospel sweetheart who was killed in a tour bus accident last year.
Another notable highlight came from MercyMe, which performed its 2001 hit, "I Can Only Imagine." The band was introduced by Miss California Carrie Prejean, the young woman who made national headlines a week earlier by standing firm on her personal beliefs when she was asked her opinion on same-sex marriage during the live Miss USA pageant.
To see a full list of the winners, visit www.doveawards.com