When the top artists in Christian and gospel music take the stage Tuesday night (Oct.15) at the 50th annual GMA Dove Awards, they will be continuing a decades old tradition of combining music and ministry to create a memorable night showcasing the many genres that make up their unique community. Held at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville, this year’s sold-out show will include performances by Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Bill Gaither, Jekalyn Carr, MercyMe, Karen Peck and New River, Michael W. Smith, Cece Winans, TobyMac, Hillsong Worship and Kirk Franklin.
Lauren Daigle leads artist nominations this year with six, including nods in the artist and song of the year categories. Other top contenders include For King & Country and Kirk Franklin, who received five nominations each. Veteran songwriter/producer Wayne Haun received an astounding 10 nominations.
SiriusXM will broadcast the Dove Awards live at 7:30 pm EST on SiriusXM’s The Message (Ch. 63) and the show will be televised exclusively on TBN Oct. 20 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Throughout the history of the Dove Awards, the show has always reflected the diversity of artists and various music styles under the gospel music umbrella, including country, rap/hip hop, worship, pop/contemporary, modern rock, bluegrass and Southern gospel.
Here some of the top names in the faith-based music community share their favorite moments in Dove Awards history.
Joel Smallbone, For King & Country: “I’ll never forget going to the Grand Ole Opry house for the first time as an 11-year-old boy, which was our first Dove Awards experience. Our sister, Rebecca St. James, was nominated for new artist of the year and was performing her single ‘Here I Am.’ That night felt like the beginning of our family’s musical journey in the United States.”
Bishop Leonard Scott: Darlene Zschech, Ron Kenoly and Alvin Slaughter singing “Shout to the Lord” in 2000. “That performance is what worship is all about. ‘Shout to the Lord’ is such a powerful song on its own. It’s pure worship. It’s simple but majestic. It was inspiring to see those three distinctly different worship leaders with their own unique styles come together to sing that song together with their big voices and showcase the diversity that exists within the body of Christ. I love everything about it.”
Karen Peck Gooch, Karen Peck & New River: “When Darlene Zschech, Ron Kenoly and Alvin Slaughter sang ‘Shout to the Lord,’ the presence of God was so powerful in the room. At one point, I literally thought that heaven was coming down. The Lord truly inhabits the praises of his people. I will never forget it.”
Bart Millard, MercyMe: “My favorite Dove performance of all time is Nicole C. Mullen singing ‘My Redeemer Lives.’ Before worship was such a mainstay in Christian music like it is now, Nicole took us to school that night, showing us how it’s done. It was other worldly.”
Kelly Nelon Clark, The Nelons: “Steven Curtis Chapman has always been one of my favorite artists, as well as a friend. One of the most moving Dove performances for me was at the 2009 Awards. Steven had lost his daughter Maria Sue to a tragic accident in his driveway the year prior. This night at the Dove Awards, he sang his song ‘Cinderella’ and dedicated it to Maria. There was not a dry eye in the house. I was amazed at his strength and ability to get through the song while knowing emotions were running high in his mind. God was truly with him. It seemed that the audience clapped forever. As artists we may go through trying times, but I’m thankful the music He gives us not only soothes the listener but also speaks to us and calms our hearts.”
Jason Crabb: “How in the world could you pick just one memorable performance from 50 years of the GMA Dove Awards? My goodness! That’s so hard. From Dolly Parton and the Christ Church Choir performing ‘He’s Alive’ to Michael W. Smith’s tribute to Billy Graham, Whitney Houston performing the Dottie Rambo classic ‘I Go To The Rock’ and then who could forget Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris singing ‘I’ve Just Seen Jesus.’ That’s the thing about the Dove Awards, it’s the very best of the best all singing about the hope we find in Jesus. It’s just the best night ever and I love being there!”
Mike Donehey, Tenth Avenue North: “The David Crowder Band played and all I remember is there were a lot of props and a lot of majesty. It felt like watching a children’s storybook unfold in front of you. The sun came out. There were characters that emerged and we laughed and high fived. The song was ‘You Make Everything Glorious’ and he did. David, that is. And God. I smiled the whole time.”
Amy Grant: “Andraé Crouch was being honored and it was the last event of the show. It started off with Michael W. [Smith] and Clay Crosse joined him and BeBe Winans. They went and pulled Andraé out of the crowd and Andraé took that and launched it into this experience. It was like the spirit fell and nobody wanted it to stop.”
Travis Greene: “The Dove Award’s most memorable moment for me was Steve Malcolm’s passionate performance [“Party in the Hills”] in 2017. His stage presence was phenomenal, and everyone was fascinated, including myself.”
Aaron Shust: “Although it doesn’t classify as a performance, in 2007 Chris Tomlin won so many awards that in order to avoid sounding redundant in his acceptance speeches, he eventually began to simply read Scripture every time he stepped up to the microphone. This left no doubt in our minds Chris’ goal was to point us to God’s greatness — ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory.’”
TobyMac: “Kirk Franklin’s ‘Happy’ in 2015 and Lecrae’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Tedashii’s ‘Dum Dum’ in 2012. I will always remember Kirk Franklin and crews doing ‘Wanna Be Happy’ because of the soulfulness and passion of the performance and the joy that entered the arena that night. It was unforgettable! Lecrae and Tedashii always bring it, but I remember that they invited everybody to the party that night at the Doves. Flexing our diversity when it comes to music genres, I love it!”
Kirk Franklin: “It’s too hard to pick one moment, but my favorite thing about the Dove Awards is seeing my brothers and sisters from different walks of life, different ethnicities all together in one room, celebrating the love of our Father.”