David Crowder Band wins MSN's Artist of the Year

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Congratulations to sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records' David Crowder Band, named MSN's 2006 Artist of the Year. The band was nominated alongside INXS, Prince, Christina Aguilera and Kenny Chesney, receiving 77 percent of the more than 270,000 votes cast by music fans.

"They've single-handedly redefined what contemporary Christian music should sound like," the MSN announcement said.

David Crowder Band has toured with Michael W. Smith, MercyMe and Third Day, and continues to be a featured band at the popular collegiate Passion gatherings.

Congratulations also to Nic Gonzalez, lead singer of the award-winning Latin jam band Salvador, and multi-Platinum artist Jaci Velasquez, who were married in Austin, Texas on Dec. 17.

From the "You don't want to miss these projects" file, check out Lost Ocean's self-titled debut, piano-driven rock that the flows effortlessly from this Bakersfield, Calif. quartet. And from San Diego's Future of Forestry comes "Twilight," melodic rock that spurs the listener to consider the poetry and beauty often overlooked in a hectic modern world.  Both are available from Credential Recordings.

The Longing has signed on to lead worship for a citywide, multi-denominational ministry called CharlotteONE, in Charlotte, N.C. The band will lead worship for more than 400 local young adults who attend the weekly worship and teaching gathering. CharlotteONE crosses denominational lines, encouraging young adults and singles in the metro area to come together with "one heart, one mind, and one voice to worship one God as one people."

Nielson Soundscan has named The Afters' hit song "Beautiful Love" the Top Downloaded Song on the Inspirational Chart for 2006. The song also received RIAA Gold Certification for Digital Sales in 2006. The Afters are currently in the studio recording their sophomore effort, set to release this fall.

Artist-worshiper Jaime Jamgochian ends her debut year as Radio & Record's No. 1 Inspo (inspirational) artist for 2006. According to the R&R year-end chart, "Hear My Worship," from her album, Reason to Live, was the 9th Most Played Song of the Year; "Love Rains Down," was the 31st; and the album's title track, "Reason to Live," was in the top 100. 

Beach Street Records' new artist John Waller was recently named one of Billboard magazine's "Faces to Watch" for 2007.  As one of only 10 artists chosen across all genres of music, Waller is the only Christian music artist to be honored in a feature story profiling acts that Billboard calls "hot talent awaiting discovery as 2007 begins." Waller currently serves as the worship pastor at Southlink Church in Lone Tree, Colorado. His debut album, The Blessing, releases on March 6.

Readers of CCM Magazine have voted Rebecca St. James "Best Female Artist" for 2006 in the publication's annual Reader's Choice Awards. St. James received the same award from readers at ChristianityToday.com. And her latest album, If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something, was named Best Album-Gospel/Christian of 2006 by Seven FM, the largest pop/rock station programming Christian music in The Netherlands.

Downhere heads "across the pond" for a European tour in February and March. The group will be touring with with RPM, the youth band from Abundant Life Church in England, and then heading to Denmark for two solo shows.

The Gospel Music Association and Nielsen Christian SoundScan have announced 2006 year-end sales data for the 52-week period ending Dec. 31. The conclusion? "2006 was a good year for Christian/Gospel music," John W. Styll, president and chief executive officer of the GMA, said in a press release. Album sales were up slightly, with legal digital music sales jumping 22.9 percent over 2005. Top Christian/gospel albums sold were:

1. Precious Memories (Arista/Sony/Provident)         Alan Jackson

2. Flyleaf (Octone)                       Flyleaf

3. Hero (GospoCentric)                 Kirk Franklin

4. Lifesong (Reunion)                   Casting Crowns

5. WoW Hits 2007 (Sparrow)         Various

6. Define the Great Line (T&N)       Underoath

7. Coming Up to Breathe (INO)       MercyMe

8. WoW Gospel 2006 (Verity)          Various

9. Wherever You Are (Essential)      Third Day

10. Piece of My Passion (Flow)         Juanita Bynum

According to Nielsen SoundScan's 2006 Year-end report, the Christian/Gospel category of overall album sales joined classical, soundtracks and Latin as the only genres that grew in sales in 2006, and was the largest of those four genres, with 6.75 percent of all album sales.  

Worship Leader magazine has announced the 2006 nominees for its 6th Annual Praise Awards. Winners will be selected by popular vote and announced in the magazine's March/April 2007 issue. Votes can be cast by visiting the Worship Leader at worshipleader.com or Song DISCovery at songdiscovery.com.

Jars of Clay hits the road this spring with Needtobreathe and Burlap to Cashmere. The tour kicks off in February in Memphis, Tennessee and ends in April in Irvine, Calif.

Steven Curtis Chapman and Jeremy Camp headline the "Winter Jam" tour, with special guests Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, debut artist Britt Nicole, evangelist/speaker Tony Nolan, comedian/presidential impersonator John Morgan, and illusionist Andre the Hollywood Cowboy. The tour kicked off in January and continues through March.

Pillar heads out for the second leg of its "Days of the Reckoning" tour, presented by Invisible Children. Joining Pillar on the tour will be Showbread, Tyler Reed, and a local band at each show. Concertgoers will view a brief version of the film "Invisible Children: Rough Cut."

Relient K's Five Score And Seven Years Ago (Gotee/Capitol), the follow up to mmhmm, hits streets March 6. The band heads out on the road in March with Mae and Sherwood.

Nelson Bibles recently released a new CD project, "Son of the Most High: Songs from the Voice - Vol. 2," a collection of music inspired by The Voice Scripture project, which encourages readers to rediscover the stories of the Bible. The album is a followup to "Please Don't Make Us Sing This Song: Songs from the Voice - Vol. 1." Both of these collections are contemporary musical renditions of Scripture and stories from the Bible. Artists involved in both projects include Sara Groves, Andrew Petersen, Tyler Burkham, Kendall Payne and Lori and Don Chaffer.