Chris Tomlin is the lead nominee for the 40th annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Tomlin grabbed seven nods - including artist, male vocalist, song of the year and praise & worship album of the year - while Natalie Grant, Casting Crowns and newcomer Francesca Battistelli received five each.

Tomlin is GMA's reigning male vocalist, having claimed the honor the past three years. Grant is the reigning female vocalist of the year with three consecutive wins and this year is nominated again in that category as well as in pop/contemporary album for "Relentless" and song of the year for her hit "I Will Not Be Moved." Battistelli's five nods include recognition in the female vocalist and new artist of the year categories as well as song of the year for her hit "I'm Letting Go." Casting Crowns received nods for artist of the year and group of the year, among others. The popular worship band has won the latter award four times.

As the GMA announced the nominees this morning, the organization also revealed a new twist. For the first time, fans will have the opportunity to participate in the process by voting in the artist of the year and new artist categories. The show will air live on the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) April 23 from 8-10pm EST from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry house. Voting for fans and GMA members will open on Feb. 26. Fan voting will be conducted through GMC on their Web site (www.gospelmusicchannel.com) and at www.doveawards.com. Fan votes will count for one third of the total vote in those categories.

Dove Awards are handed out in 43 categories representing the depth and diversity in the gospel music community. "Christian and gospel music expresses itself in many different ways and we applaud all nominated artists for their unique contributions to the music landscape," GMA president John W. Styll comments. "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."

In addition to airing the Doves live, GMC will also re-broadcast the show multiple times. GMC is now available in more than 43 million homes in all major markets on the major cable systems as well as on DIRECTV.

The following in a complete list of nominees is here.