“We can’t hide it under a bushel! An organization like this is a great way to do what you do and take it out into the world,” Ricky Skaggs says of country artists being recognized for sharing their faith at the 14th annual Inspirational Country Music Awards last night (Oct. 16) at Trinity Music City USA Auditorium.
Skaggs was named musician of the year and he and the Whites shared ICM honors in the mainstream country artist of the year and Inspirational Bluegrass Artist categories. Skaggs and the Whites teamed last year for the Grammy winning album “Salt of the Earth.” “We’ve already been talking about doing another one because we had so much fun doing the first one,” Cheryl White told Billboard.
Adds sister Sharon: “This album has just been a dream. We never expected it to do all that it’s done. People like it and it’s given us so much attention and recognition. We appreciate it so much.”
CrossCountry the Band won entertainer of the year. “It shocked us,” lead vocalist Leo Johnson told Billboard backstage at the event. “We’ve been vocal group of the year twice and were evangelists of the year. We know the power of entertaining people. We capture their hearts through entertaining them and introduce them to Christ through that.”
Del Way won the male vocalist of the year title. The Bellamy Brothers, who released their first gospel album, “Jesus is Coming, in 2007 won Vocal Duo of the year. George Strait’s hit “I Saw God Today” was named mainstream inspirational song of the year award.
Sonya Isaacs won her second consecutive female vocalist of the year award. “We were out of the country last year,” Sonya Isaacs told Billboard of missing the opportunity to accept the honor in 2007. “This year was great because I got get up and say thank you for this year and last year.”
Tracy Lawrence netted the top video honor for “Till I Was A Daddy Too.” Danny Ray Harris won the best new artist accolade, and veteran Dennis Agajanian won the Pioneer Award.
Hosted by Collin Raye, the show featured performances from Lawrence, Raye, Austin’s Bridge, Phil Stacy, Point of Grace, Del Way, CrossCountry The Band, Russ Murphy, The Last Light Band and James Payne, among others. Steve McGranahan, a.k.a. the World’s Strongest Redneck, earned kudos as the most entertaining presenter of the night, demonstrating his strength by rolling a metal frying pan up like a burrito and tossing it to an amazed Skaggs.
One of the highlights of the event was the Isaacs performing “Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing,” written by the late Dottie Rambo. “She was a really good friend of ours and when she passed away earlier this year it was a big shock to all of us,” said Sonya Isaacs whose family group performed the song at Rambo’s funeral. “We loved Dottie and it was an honor to sing it in memory of her tonight.”
The ICM Awards concluded the annual Inspirational Country Music convention. The show was taped for broadcast on Comcast On Demand; CMT Loaded; Sky Angel’s Angel Two Network; Cornerstone TeleVision; The Worship Network; National Religious Broadcaster (NRB); CTS Television Canada; Faith TV; and TCT Networks.
The following is a complete list of award winners:
Entertainer of the Year
CrossCountry the Band
Vocal Group or Band
Last Light Band
Mainstream Inspirational Country Song
I Saw God Today – George Strait
Mainstream Country Artist
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
Christian Country Song
Legend / Pioneer Award
“Till I Was A Daddy Too”
Danny Ray Harris
WJCR Upton, KY
Inspirational Bluegrass Artist
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
Youth In Music Award
Music Evangelist of the Year
Faith, Family, & Country Movie
Facing The Giants
Trinity Broadcast Network