Christian music’s brightest stars gathered to honor their best performers at the 2013 Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards, which were handed out on Oct. 15 in Nashville, Tennessee. The ceremony was hosted by multiple Grammy and Dove Award winners Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin and was televised Monday night, Oct. 21, on UP Network. 

There were several amazing performances from Dove nominees including Tamela Mann and a show-stopping rendition of “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs. Some big winners emerged from a crowded field of talented contenders, with British singer / songwriter / worship leader Matt Redman sweeping three huge categories and six total awards, and TobyMac taking home top honors as Artist of the Year.

Returning to Christian Roots

Christian hip hop artist TobyMac kicked off the festivities with his energetic and inspiring title-track from his Grammy-winning fifth studio album, Eye On It, which eventually earned the Dove Award for Pop Contemporary Album. His upbeat and uplifting performance easily displays how Christ’s message can be conveyed in any music genre, with the right song.

Dove co-hosts Amy Grant and Kirk Franklin set the mood for the night with Amy saying, “Tonight we’ll honor and showcase the best and the brightest. We’ll respect our roots and get excited about the future.”

She went on to list some music industry giants who emerged from several generations who all got their start singing in church including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Hank Williams, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Usher. How fantastic is it these music superstars all share Christian roots?

Taking Home the Triple Crown, Plus Three

Two-time Grammy Award winner Matt Redman added six new Dove Awards to his previous win for 2007’s Artist of the Year.. Redman won Song of the Year (“10,000 Reasons”), Contemporary Christian Performance of the Year, (“10,000 Reasons”) and Songwriter of the Year, along with Pop Contemporary Song and Praise & Worship Song, making him the night’s biggest winner. Matt was the most notable missing attendee, as he is currently touring in Europe.

New Kids on the Block

It’s always exciting to see new performers get recognized and this year it was especially nice to see American Idol finalist and Dove New artist nominee Colton Dixon take home the Dove Award for Best Rock Contemporary Album of the Year for his first studio release, A Messenger. Colton performed his hit single “Never Gone,” which was nominated for Best Rock Contemporary Song of the Year.

The New Artist Award ultimately went to Aussie native Christian Rock duo for KING & COUNTRY; which consists of brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone. Luke gave one of the most inspirational acceptance speeches of the night, discussing a recent battle with sickness saying:

“It’s funny, on one of the darkest nights I had, I was in an awful lot of pain and I was sitting on my bed, thinking God, why am I so sick? Why am I in so much pain? And God has a unique way of taking those unique moments and spinning them into something quite miraculous. I felt God say to me Luke, no matter how dark things might ever become in your life, no matter how difficult things might be, no matter how hard those trials you might face might be, there is always hope in Me. That’s the reason why we do music.”

Two Legendary Tributes

The overall inspiring and uplifting ceremony also contained two touching tributes to Christian legends Reverend Billy Graham and iconic gospel music artist Bill Gaither.

Forty-time Dove Award winner Michael W. Smith led Billy Graham’s tribute, noting the soon-to-be 95-year-old evangelist has led over 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents, which resulted in over 3 million people accepting the invitation to receive Christ as their personal Savior. How amazing and awe-inspiring is that?

Legendary gospel singer / songwriter Bill Gaither was honored in song with a medley of his biggest hits performed by various artists like Dailey & Vincent, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, The Isaacs and Karen Peck, who ended the tribute by performing one of Bill’s most renowned titles of his 700 song catalog, “He Touched Me.” The crowd offered up resounding applause when Bill Gaither and The Gaither Vocal Band took the stage to sing a soul-stirring “Alpha and Omega.”

Artist of the Year

TobyMac received the final and most prestigious award of the evening, the Artist of the Year Award. The humble and charming artist credited some “great strength” around him in his acceptance speech, which included thanking his wife and children, record company and band. He closed out his comments emphasizing his faith, which was the resounding theme of the evening for all of the artists and presenters.

TobyMac said, “I have to say I’m thankful for the strength around me and obviously as I stand here, I would be remiss if I didn’t say the strength, the Rock, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I’m so thankful.”

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