MercyMe, CeCe Winans Win Big At 2017 Dove Awards

CeCe Winans won Gospel Artist of the Year at the 2017 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Courtesy Photo.

MercyMe, CeCe Winans, Zach Williams, the Gaither Vocal Band, Tamela Mann and Reba McEntire were among the top winners at the 48th Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Held at David Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville, the show was hosted by Kari Jobe and Tasha Cobb Leonard and recognized the top artists, songwriters and producers in faith-based music of all styles including rock, rap, country and gospel.

MercyMe was named artist of the year and frontman Bart Millard earned songwriter of the year (artist). The band’s album Lifer won pop/contemporary album of the year. “It’s the most fun we’ve had on a record, and it’s the most honest we’ve been,” Millard told Billboard. “Years ago we said we’re tired of telling people to quit sinning and just wanted to try to show them who they are in Christ.”

Millard has long been the band’s principal songwriter, and next spring the story of his turbulent relationship with his father will hit the big screen in the film I Can Only Imagine. The movie is named for the hit song he wrote after his father’s passing. Dennis Quaid portrays Millard’s father in the film. “My therapy is to write songs about the stuff I go through,” Millard shared. “Most of the songs I’ve written have come out of some kind of tragedy. It’s me working things out. I don’t think I’ve ever written thinking someone might like this song. It’s really for me to work through the emotions myself. It’s comforting to know that it connects with a lot of people. It’s been really cool.”

CeCe Winans also took home multiple Dove Awards, including gospel artist of the year and contemporary gospel/urban album of the year for Let Them Fall in Love, which was produced by her son Alvin Love III and Tommy Sims. Winans claimed the first award of the night and commented on the youthful talent that had also been in her categor: Kirk Franklin, Travis Greene, Tasha Cobb Leonard and Tamela Mann. “They have all blessed my soul. I’m honored to be in this category with them,” said Winans, who thanked her son, Alvin Love III. “He is the visionary behind my latest record, Let Them Fall in Love, and I think it’s my best work yet.  So thank you for telling me what to do. I had to submit to him as a mom and that was rough, but it turned out amazing.”

NEEDTOBREATHE won Doves for rock contemporary album of the year and rock contemporary recorded song for “Hard Love,” which featured Lauren Daigle. The Gaither Vocal Band was named southern gospel artist of the year and their hit “Better Together” was named southern gospel recorded song of the year.

Hillsong Worship’s hit “What a Beautiful Name” was named song of the year and worship song of the year. Zach Williams was named best new artist and his hit “Chain Breaker” tied for pop/contemporary recorded song with Ryan Stevenson’s “Eye of the Storm.”

Acclaimed writer producer Bernie Herms, who has worked with everyone from Casting Crowns to Barbra Streisand won two honors — producer of the year and songwriter of the year (non-artist). Casting Crowns won the Dove for contemporary Christian artist of the year.

A familiar face, who is new to the gospel community took one of the evening’s top honors as Reba McEntire won for bluegrass/country/roots album for her double-disc set Sing it Now: Songs of Faith and Hope. “It’s not mine. It’s God’s,” McEntire said clutching her Dove. “I’ll give him all the glory and put it up on the mantle, and think of Him every time I look at it because it is truly a blessing to get to sing songs that touch people’s heart. I’m just the conduit. I’m just the water hose. He lets me sing words. If it touches my heart and I sing it, and it touches other hearts, I’ve done my job.”

Jaci Velasquez, who won the best new artist in 1997 and female vocalist in 1999 and 2000, earned her fourth Dove in the Spanish language album of the year category for Confio. “I was most excited for the producers. It was both of their first Dove Award nomination and their first win. To be part of their first win is so special,” Velasquez told Billboard praising producers David Leonard and Chris Bevins.

Veteran southern gospel group The Nelons won bluegrass/country/roots recorded song of the year for “When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace.” “I never thought we would win. We were up against Reba McEntire, the Isaacs and a bunch of great people. I was just thrilled to be nominated,” Kelly Nelon told Billboard on the red carpet. “When they said my name, my heart just started pounding. Bluegrass was one of my father’s favorites. He loved it, so to win the bluegrass/country award was amazing. It’s the first Dove Award we’ve won since he’s been gone so it was like he was smiling down at us.”

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SOURCE: Billboard – Deborah Evans Price