NASHVILLE, Tenn. For the first time, fans will get to vote for Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year for the Gospel Music Association's 40th annual Dove Awards.
Nominees were announced Feb. 20, and the show will be broadcast live from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., April 23 on the Gospel Music Channel from 8-10 p.m. Eastern.
Fans can vote at www.doveawards.com beginning Feb. 26, and the cumulative fan vote will account for one-third of the total vote in those two categories.
The seven nominees for Artist of the Year are Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Fireflight, Marvin Sapp, Third Day, TobyMac and Chris Tomlin.
Tomlin, a three-time Male Vocalist of the Year, is the top nominee with seven nominations, including Song of the Year. Natalie Grant and newcomer Francesca Battistelli each received five nominations, as did Casting Crowns.
"Christian and gospel music expresses itself in many different ways and we applaud all nominated artists for their unique contributions to the music landscape," John W. Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association, said. "The powerful messages of redemption, hope and joy found in the music of our Dove nominees come during a season in history when our country and the world need inspiration and encouragement."
Other nominations among the Dove's 43 categories:
• Male Vocalist of the Year Jeremy Camp, Jon Foreman, Ernie Haase, Brandon Heath, David Phelps, Marvin Sapp and Chris Tomlin.
• Female Vocalist of the Year Francesca Battistelli, Brooke Fraser, Karen Peck Gooch, Natalie Grant, Mandisa, Sandi Patty and Laura Story.
• Group of the Year Casting Crowns, David Crowder Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Mary Mary, MercyMe, Skillet and Third Day.
• New Artist of the Year Addison Road, Francesca Battistelli, Fee, Jonathan Nelson, Remedy Drive, Chris Sligh and Tenth Avenue North.
• Song of the Year: "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)," Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio; "Cinderella," Steven Curtis Chapman; "Empty Me," Chris Sligh, Clint Lagerberg, Tony Wood; "Give Me Your Eyes," Brandon Heath, Jason Ingram; "I Will Not Be Moved," Natalie Grant; "I'm Letting Go," Francesca Battistelli, Tony Wood, Ian Eskelin; "Mighty to Save," Ben Fielding, Joel Houston; "Never Going Back to OK," Matt Fuqua, Josh Havens, Brad Wigg, Dan Muckala; "Reason Enough," Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey; "You Reign," Bart Millard, Barry Graul, Steven Curtis Chapman.
• Musical Child of Wonder; Lari Goss, Rob Howard (Word Music); East to West; Gary Rhodes (Word Music); God Bless the USA; Sue C. Smith, Joel Lindsey, Russell Mauldin (Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing); Savior; David Moffitt, Sue C. Smith, Travis Cottrell (Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing); The Risen Christ; Don Cason, Karla Worley (Clear Call Music) The Risen Christ features Easter Hymns from Keith & Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend including 'In Christ Alone' and 'The Power of the Cross."
Recordings released from Nov. 1, 2007, through Oct. 31, 2008, are eligible for this year's Doves and are voted on by members of the GMA.