Renowned Christian worship leader and song writer Chris Tomlin leads this year's group of Dove Award nominees with seven nods, including one for "Artist of the Year", "Male Vocalist of the Year", and "Song of the Year".
Following Tomlin, with five nominations each, are female artists Natalie Grant and Francesca Battistelli and Christian band Casting Crowns, who like Tomlin will be vying for the Gospel Music Association (GMA)'s top "Artist of the Year" award. Other artists nominated for "Artist of the Year" are Steven Curtis Chapman, Fireflight, Marvin Sapp, Third Day and TobyMac.
"Christian and gospel music expresses itself in many different ways and we applaud all nominated artists for their unique contributions to the music landscape," said GMA President John W Styll after Friday's announcement of the nominees. "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."
Since 1969, the GMA Dove Awards have honoured outstanding achievements in Christian music with awards representing a wide variety of musical styles, including metal, pop, rock, rap & hip hop, country, gospel, and praise & worship. Presented annually in Nashville, Tennessee, the awards are voted upon by members of the Gospel Music Association and are often described as Christian music's Grammys.
This year, for the first time, fans will become stakeholders in the Dove Awards with an opportunity to vote for the winner of Artist of the Year along with New Artist of the Year, which includes nominees Addison Road, Francesca Battistelli, Fee, Jonathan Nelson, Remedy Drive, Chris Sligh and Tenth Avenue North. The cumulative fan vote, which will continue through the live Dove Awards broadcast on April 23, will account for one-third of the total vote in those two categories.
In total, Dove Awards will be handed out in 43 categories – far more than the seven Christian categories of the Grammys, which has been criticised for merging together distinct categories such as Christian rock and rap, pop and contemporary, and Southern, country and bluegrass.
The 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards will be held at Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry House. Gospel music's biggest night of the year will feature artists from every style of gospel and Christian music coming together for a night of music and celebration.
On the web:
List of the 40th Annual GMA Dove Award Nominations at www.doveawards.com
Fan voting, which will be conducted through the Gospel Music Channel website, www.gospelmusicchannel.com, and at www.doveawards.com, will open on February 26 – the same day online voting opens for GMA members.