ATLANTA Francesca Battistelli took home top honors from the the 42nd annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. The 25-year-old Battistelli won Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and pop-contemporary recorded song for "Beautiful, Beautiful."
The Associated Press said she "continues her strong surge as Christian music's biggest star."
Chris August won New Artist of the Year, Best Male Vocalist and pop-contemporary album for "No Far Away."
"As a Christian, I'm humbled," August said, as reported by watchgmctv.com. "You don't look for awards. You just want to make music and serve Jesus, but as a person who has been working at music for many years, to finally have someone say, 'Hey, you did a great job on something and here's an award for it ...,' that's a pretty cool feeling."
Point of Grace and Jason Crabb also won three Doves each, including Crabb's honor for Song of the Year with "Sometimes I Cry" written by his father Gerald Crabb.
Group of the Year went to NEEDTOBREATHE, and Ian Eskelin won Producer of the Year.
The awards show was hosted by Sherri Shepherd of ABC's "The View," and presenters included Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Green Bay Packers wideout Greg Jennings, singer Ruben Studdard and actress Kim Fields.
Tebow introduced Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth and highlighted the couple's efforts to promote and support adoption.
"To just interact with them was great," Tebow told AP. "To meet them and spend time with them was great. I've listened to them for years. This was really special for me to see what they're about. When you get to know them as people, it's truly meaningful."
Mac Powell of Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mark Hall of Casting Crowns performed together on the adoption-themed song "Children of God," as a highlight of the evening, and Point of Grace sang with Kenny Rogers on his newest inspirational country song "The Rock of Your Love."
Sandi Patty was honored for her lifetime achievements as the nominees for Female Vocalist of the Year took turns singing her songs. Patty said she felt comfortable "passing on the torch" to the other singers, AP reported.
"I was sitting there thinking there has been a lot of life lived since the beginning," Patty said backstage, according to watchgmctv.com. "I understand God's grace and His forgiveness in a way that perhaps when I won my first Dove Award 30 years ago I didn't understand."
The Dove Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, April 24, at 7 and 9 p.m. Eastern on gmc, formerly known as the Gospel Music Channel.
For a complete list of award winners, visit www.gospelmusic.org.