Matt Redman, Matthew West, Sam Mizell, Dave Clark and EMI Christian Music Publishing were the top honorees at ASCAP’s annual Christian Music Awards at Nashville’s Richland Country Club.
Redman was named ASCAP’s songwriter of the year. West and Mizell accepted awards Monday night (April 20) for penning ASCAP’s Christian song of the year, “You Are Everything,” and EMI Christian Music Group was named Christian publisher of the year for the sixth consecutive year.
Veteran songwriter/publisher/label executive Clark received ASCAP’s living legend award. Clark, who heads Word’s Canaan label, signed with ASCAP in 1980. He recently scored his 25th No. 1 hit with “One True God,” co-written with Mark Harris, who performed the song at the event. Larnelle Harris also performed in tribute to Clark, singing “I Can Begin Again.”
“You’ve heard how he moves heaven with his lyrics, well he moves earth with his golf game,” Larnelle joked in regards to Clark’s skills on the links.
Clark was totally caught off guard by the honor. “This really wasn’t what I expected tonight. I thought I was coming to celebrate with Tony Wood. I love nobody knowing what I look like,” the self-effacing Clark told the audience of his preference for staying in the background as much as possible.
In accepting his award for song of the year, West admitted “You Are Everything” will always hold special significance. “This has been a journey. A couple years ago, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be singing at all,” said West, who underwent surgery in 2007.
“This is the first song I sang after coming back from surgery on my vocal chords,” he added. “I never felt more helpless, but the Lord promised me that he wasn’t done with me yet. Every time I sing this song and now standing here with this award, this is the proof that sometimes the worst things that happen to us are the best things. God can heal us and turn our brokenness into something amazing and beautiful.”
West says he and Mizell take a disciplined approach to their writing. “Sam and I had it printed on the door of the room where we write most of our songs – ‘This Ain’t No Hobby.’ We take our songwriting seriously,” West said. “A veteran songwriter once told me ‘if you treat it like a hobby, it’s going to pay like a hobby, but if you treat it like a job, it’s going to pay like a job.’ Tonight, obviously, is not about what it pays, but I think it’s proof that Sam and I have treated our songwriting like a job. On the days we don’t feel like writing, we still write. It’s on those days we’re surprised to come up with a song like ‘You Are Everything.’ We walked out of there feeling like we wrote something special.”
The awards were presented by ASCAP Senior VP Connie Bradley and VP Dan Keen. Third Day’s Mac Powell, Amy Grant, Brandon Heath, Rush of Fools, Jeremy Camp, Bernie Herms, Sanctus Real and Chris Sligh were among those present at the event.
Newcomer Joy Lippard performed “Hole in My Pocket” from her self-titled debut CD.