NASVHILLE, Tenn. — The Gospel Music Association's biggest night launched with a thumping rendition of "Lose My Soul" performed by Mandisa, TobyMac and Kirk Franklin, setting the stage to honor top Christian artists across a spectrum of musical style.
The all-star cast of singers, songwriters and producers gathered at the 38th Annual GMA Dove Awards at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., April 25.
All eyes were on singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin who captured six Dove Awards, exceeding the five statues he won last year.
"I am overwhelmed by the whole thing," said Tomlin, who was quick to give glory to God for the accolades. "I am grateful for the honors, but at the end of the day that's not what impresses God.... He must increase and I must decrease. I know this is nothing that I do; I just know that the presence and favor of God is with me."
Tomlin won for the second consecutive year both the Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year awards, saying it was an honor to win in a category of "incredible singers." He also won for his contribution on the Special Event Album of the Year, "Passion: Everything Glorious."
Tomlin's current release, "See the Morning," captured two additional awards when it was named Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Praise and Worship Album of the Year. "Holy is the Lord," co-written with Louie Giglio, won Worship Song of the Year.
Tomlin garnered the most awards during the live event and said he plans to remain faithful in writing worship songs that "give a voice to the people in the church."
Dove Award debut winner Aaron Shust captured Song of the Year with "My Savior, My God" and New Artist of the Year, winning over nominees DecembeRadio, Leeland, Pocket Full of Rocks and Ayiesha Woods. He also was named Songwriter of the Year.
"I am a huge fan of Christian music," Shust said after winning the trio of trophies. "The awards have boosted my confidence tonight ... but tomorrow when I wake up I will still be a sinner saved by grace."
John W. Styll, president and CEO of the Gospel Music Association and executive producer of the GMA Dove Awards, said in a press release following the show, "Chris Tomlin and Aaron Shust deserve their moment to rejoice in the recognition their community has bestowed on them with their multiple Dove Awards and it is evident they will be impacting gospel and Christian music for some time to come."
Casting Crowns was named Group of the Year for the third consecutive year, winning over nominees BarlowGirl, David Crowder Band, Jars of Clay and MercyMe. Casting Crowns also won the Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year for "Praise You in The Storm."
"The purpose of our songs is to direct [listeners] to God's Word," lead singer Mark Hall said, adding that after three consecutive Group of the Year awards the members stay grounded by "going back to the real world" and ministering in their churches and their families.
Ed Cash won Producer of the Year for the third consecutive year.
Natalie Grant grabbed for the second consecutive year the honor of Female Vocalist of the Year, winning over nominees Krystal Meyers, Christy Nockels, Nichole Nordeman and Rebecca St. James.
Grant, along with Backstreet Boy member/Christian recording artist Brian Littrell and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, hosted the awards ceremony.
Performers included Mac Powell of Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Hall, Take 6, Brian Littrell, Leeland, DecembeRadio, The Crabb Family, Chris Tomlin and others.
The Dove Awards will be televised nationally in May and June. To see a list of dates and times as well as a complete list of award winners, visit doveawards.com.