crabb Artist and male vocalist of the year winner Jason Crabb backstage with Gospel Music Channel founder/CEO Charlie Humbard. (Photo: Celeste Winstead)

Jason Crabb cemented his status as a solo phenomenon by winning male vocalist and artist of the year at the G ospel Music Association's 43rd Annual Dove Awards last night (April 19) at the historic Fox Theater in Atlanta. Natalie Grant collected her fifth trophy in the female vocalist category and though absent from the festivities rockers NEEDTOBREATHE were named group of the year for the third consecutive year. Singer/songwriter Laura Story took home five Doves, including song of the year for "Blessings."

Jason Crabb Tops 2012 Dove Awards Nominees

Including this year's awards, Crabb has won a total of 16 Doves, most of them as a member of the Crabb Family, the sibling group he performed with until they disbanded in 2007. The group reunited last year to record Together Again, released in February on Spring Hill Music. Crabb is currently working on the follow up to his Grammy winning solo debut with Jay DeMarcus, bassist for multi-platinum country trio Rascal Flatts.

"We're already starting to get songs together and saying 'What's it going to be?'" Crabb tells Billboard.biz. "We got together and sang and it's gonna be a blast. I'm looking forward to working with him."

Though he went into this year's Doves as the most nominated artist with nods in eight categories, Crabb says the wins took him by surprise. "When they said my name, I couldn't believe it," he says. "I'm very, very thankful."

Story won pop/contemporary album of the year for Blessings. The title track was named song of the year and pop/contemporary song of the year. The expectant mom says the song was written after her husband suffered a brain tumor and subsequent challenges during his recovery.

vip Left to right, GMA executive director Jackie Patillo, Stan Whitmire, who won Doves in the instrumental album of the year and choral collection categories and GMA's Justin Fratt. (Photo: Deborah Evans Price)

"It's about the journey my husband and I have walked through in the last five years," she said backstage. "I probably would have rather written a song about winning the lottery and how awesome that was. It's harder to write songs about the hard times in your life, but that's where we see God show up."

Among the other multiple honorees, Kirk Franklin claimed the Dove for contemporary gospel recorded song for "I Smile," the hit single from his album Hello Fear, which was named contemporary gospel album of the year. Curb Records trio Selah won both inspirational album of the year for Hope of the Broken World, and the title track was named inspirational recorded song. LeCrae won rap/hip hop recorded song for "Hallelujah" and rap/hip hop album of the year for Rehab: The Overdose.

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Karen Peck & New River won Southern Gospel album of the year for Reach Out and country recorded song of the year for "Good Things Are Happening." It's the first time the veteran trio has won a Dove. "We've been together 21 years. We're living proof that some things don't happen overnight," said Peck, who recently appeared with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton in the film "Joyful Noise."

"She's a pioneer and such a leader," says Wayne Haun, who produced Reach Out. (Haun took home five Doves for his songwriting and production.) "It was an emotional moment for all of us. I watched her growing up. She was my favorite soprano and I've followed her career. Now to be a part of it leaves me speechless."

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newcomer Jamie Grace broke down in tears as she accepted the Dove for new artist of the year. The Atlanta resident, who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, noted that four years ago she had attended her prom at the Fox. "It's a mind-blowing experience to be back here for the Doves," she said backstage.

Former R&B hitmaker Montell Jordan, who currently leads worship and records for Atlanta's Victory World Church, co-hosted the afternoon pre-telecast with Curbs Records artist Plumb. Among the big winners during the early ceremony were bluegrass gospel group The Isaacs. "To win something is such an honor," Ben Isaacs said. "We're totally blessed to be able to cross-pollinate bluegrass music into the CMAs, ACMs and the Dove Awards, and to win something like this lets us know we're appreciated on the Christian side as well."

The televised portion of the Doves was co-hosted by comedian Chonda Pierce and actor David Mann of the TBS series "Meet the Browns." The show opened with a performance by Angie Stone, Yolanda Adams, Crystal Lewis and Peck, who delivered the Dottie Rambo classic "I Go To the Rock" in tribute to Whitney Houston, who performed the song on the 1998 Doves.

Another highlight was the salute to legendary vocalist Russ Taff who teared up in the audience as he saw his songs delivered by Crabb, Wess, Morgan and Donnie McClurkin. "I was overwhelmed," Taff told Billboard backstage. "They wouldn't tell me who was singing. I knew Jason was because we text and stuff. I knew he was but I didn't know about Donnie and Wess. I was just overwhelmed by the whole thing. It was incredible."

The Dove Awards are voted on by the membership of the Gospel Music Assn. The show is set to air Tuesday night (4/24) at 8pm EST on the Gospel Music Channel.

The following is a complete list of winners.

Song of the Year - Blessings; Laura Story; Laura Story; New Spring Publishing (ASCAP), Gleaning Publishing (ASCAP)

Male Vocalist of the Year - Jason Crabb

Female Vocalist of the Year - Natalie Grant

Group of the Year
- NEEDTOBREATHE

Artist of the Year - Jason Crabb

New Artist of the Year
- Jamie-Grace

Producer of the Year
- Ed Cash

Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year - Hallelujah; Rehab Deluxe Edition; Lecrae; LeCrae Moore, Charles Cornelius, Joseph Prielozny, Nelson Chu; Reach Records

Rock Recorded Song of the Year - Dark Horses; Vice Verses; Switchfoot; Jonathan Foreman, Tim Foreman; Credential Recordings/lowercasepeople/Atlantic

Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year - Slumber; The Reckoning; NEEDTOBREATHE; Bear Rinehart, Bo Rinehart; Atlantic Records

Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year - Blessings; Blessings; Laura Story; Laura Story; Fair Trade Services, LLC
Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year - Hope Of The Broken World; Hope Of The Broken World; Selah; Carl Cartee, Jennie Riddle; Curb

Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year - Celebrate Me Home; Blue Skies Coming; Perrys; Joel Lindsey, Wayne Haun; Daywind

Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year - Mama's Teaching Angels How to Sing; Naturally; The Isaacs; Dottie Rambo; Gaither Music Group

Country Recorded Song of the Year - Good Things Are Happening; Reach Out; Karen Peck & New River; Wayne Haun, Sonya Isaacs; Daywind

Urban Recorded Song of the Year - Sweeter; The Love Album; Kim Burrell; Kathy Burrell, Shanachie Records
Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year - Hold On; Change The Atmosphere; Christ Tabernacle Choir; Wayne Haun, Steve Carey, Matthew Garinger; Vine

Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year - I Smile; Hello Fear; Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, James Harris, Terry Lewis, Fred Tackett; Verity

Worship Song of the Year - Your Great Name; Michael Neale, Krissy Nordhoff; Integrity's Praise! Music (BMI), Two Nords Music (ASCAP)

Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year - Rehab: The Overdose; Lecrae; Lecrae, Torrance Esmond,Kadence, Tony

Rock Album of the Year - Vice Verses; Switchfoot; Neal Avron; EMI CMG

Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year - The Reckoning; NEEDTOBREATHE; Rick Beato, Greg Wells, NEEDTOBREATHE; Atlantic Records

Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year - Blessings; Laura Story; Nathan Nockels; Fair Trade Services, LLC

Inspirational Album of the Year - Hope Of The Broken World; Selah; Jason Kyle, Todd Smith, Allan Hall, Bernie Herms; Curb Records

Southern Gospel Album of the Year
- Reach Out; Karen Peck & New River; Wayne Haun; Daywind

Bluegrass Album of the Year - Grassroots Rambos; Rambo McGuire; Dony McGuire; Rambo McGuire Records

Country Album of the Year - Dreamin' Wide Awake; Doug Anderson; Wayne Haun; StowTown

Urban Album of the Year - Church on the Moon; Deitrick Haddon; Fred Jenkins Deitrick Haddon, Cordell Walton, Blaze, AJ Encore, Ebony Eugene Suber, David Haddon, Calvin Frazier, Fred Jerkins III, wowJones; Verity Gospel Music Group

Traditional Gospel Album of the Year - Promises; Richard Smallwood; Steven Ford, Richard Smallwood, Donald Lawrence, Daniel Weatherspoon; Verity Gospel Music Group

Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year - Hello Fear; Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, Shaun Martin; Verity Gospel Music Group
Instrumental Album of the Year - Unfailing Love: 20 Worship Songs of Comfort and Peace; Stan Whitmire; Stan Whitmire; Green Hill Productions

Childrens Music Album of the Year - Groovy; Denver and the Mile High Orchestra; Jamie Statema, Denver Bierman and Darren Rust; Go Fish Kids Records

Spanish Language Album of the Year - Top 25 Cantos de Alabanza 2012; Various; Phil Sillas; Maranatha! Music

Special Event Album of the Year - The Story; Matthew West, Leigh Nash from Sixpence None the Richer, Mark Hall & Megan Garret from Casting Crowns, Brandon Heath, Bart Millard from Mercy Me, Michael Tait From Newsboys, Blanca Callahan from Group 1 Crew, Lecrae, Chris Tomlin, Peter Furler, Mandisa, Todd Smith from Selah, Michael W Smith, Jeremy Camp, Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, Matt Hammit from Sanctus Real, Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Mac Powell from Third Day, Nichole Nordeman, Amy Grant, Francesca Battistelli, Darlene Zschech; Bernie Herms, Brown Bannister; EMI, Provident, Word

Christmas Album of the Year - Oh For Joy; David Crowder*Band; David Crowder*Band; SixSteps/ Sparrow Records

Praise and Worship Album of the Year - And If Our God is For Us...; Chris Tomlin; Ed Cash, Dan Muckala; EMI CMG

Musical of the Year - Down From His Glory; Mike Speck;Lillenas Publishing Company

Youth/Childrens Musical of the Year - God of This City; Susie Williams, David Ebensberger & Luke Gambill; Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing

Choral Collection of the Year - Everlasting Praise 3; Mike Speck, Stan Whitmire;Lillenas Publishing Company

Recorded Music Packaging of the Year - Christmas In Diverse City; TobyMac; Jan Cook; Eddy Boer for Boerhaus; Lee Stephen, Ryan Lampa, Nick West; EMI CMG

Short Form Music Video of the Year - You Are More; Tenth Avenue North; Wes Edwards; Drew Langer; Ruckus Films; Reunion Records

Long Form Music Video of the Year - Fear Not Tomorrow; The Collingsworth Family; Curt Casassa; Jim Hammond; P&KC Music; P&KC Music