Smith Is Top Doves Contender

Gospel honors set for April 13.

Michael W. Smith tops the nominees for the 36th annual Gospel Music Assn. Dove Awards. Smith garnered eight noms, including artist of the year and song of the year for "Healing Rain," which he wrote with Martin Smith and Matt Bronleewe.

Casting Crowns earned seven nominations, including group and artist of the year.

The Crabb Family moved Southern gospel to the forefront of key categories -- usually dominated by pop and rock acts -- receiving six nominations, including group of the year and song of the year (for "Through the Fire"). Jason Crabb is up for male vocalist of the year, against Jeremy Camp, Casting Crown frontman Mark Hall, Israel Houghton and Fernando Ortega. Family patriarch Gerald Crabb received six nominations for his songwriting.

Houghton, Switchfoot, MercyMe, and Matthew West each received five nominations. Switchfoot frontman Jonathan Foreman received three of his own nominations. Steven Curtis Chapman, BarlowGirl, Selah, Jeremy Camp, Martha Munizzi, Martin Smith, Sanctus Real, J Moss and Matt Redman picked up four nominations each.

The Dove Awards will be held April 13 at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House. The honors are voted on by the 4,500-members of the GMA.