Music City was lit up with outstanding anticipation and permeating praise, as it welcomed back the GMA Dove Awards, live in Nashville! With 38 award categories, spanning across a diverse plain of musical genres from Blue Grass Country to Rap/Hip Hop and Spanish Language to Pop/Contemporary, they could almost be dubbed the Gospel music Billboard Awards. Despite a pandemic that continues to lag, it did not stop the Allen Arena at Lipscomb University (a repeat host of the Dove Awards) from overflowing with both artists and guest, in attendance.
This year’s co-hosts were musical sensations, Jonathan McReynolds and Natalie Grant who were a fun-loving pair. They kicked off the Gospel Music Association’s festivities with a Zoom call spoof, that everyone was grateful ended with them live and in person on stage. Natalie Grant, who has a golden voice, is no stranger to the Dove Awards. This year makes her third appearance as an awards host and she’s a five-time GMA Dove Awards winner for Female Vocalist of the Year. Though Jonathan McReynolds was the novice Dove’s host, he is by no means a stranger to finessing a stage, as he was tapped to virtually host last years Stellar Awards. He’s becoming a young legend in Gospel music, revered by both his elders and peers on all facets of the music business. Both are Grammy Award winning artist, and the way they captivated the audience with their rousing stage performances, signifies why.
“Stronger Together” was this year’s Dove Awards theme, resonating with both artists and attendees. It is truly indicative of how many felt, as they reunited to celebrate the variety of sounds in Gospel music; happy to see each other face to face. Since its inception, the Gospel Music Association has had one mission: to expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music and media. The mission was yet again accomplished, even after a somewhat challenging year that could have made it impossible.
Back-stage on the red carpet, artists excitedly embraced and couldn’t wait to share how they had been inspired during the unprecedented time away. While many had to cancel tours and engagements, they still managed to crank out music and send messages of hope and God’s love to a world in need. Chris Brown of Elevation Music expressed how he was truly grateful, that even when the doors of the church had to close, many worship teams could help deliver a message of faith through their music. Contemporary Christian Artists, Zach Williams who was also nominated for 5 awards for the evening, reveled in his joy of seeing faces in the crowds again during his sold out The Rescue Story Tour. While New Artist nominee Dante Bowe, who is also a part of the Maverick City music collective revealed how he was led to write the song “Joyful” in 2020 during a time when it seemed joy had eluded so many during the COVID-19 calamity.
Outside of anticipating the winners of some of Christian music’s most coveted award categories, is the allure of the polished performances. Just a few of the artists who ignited the stage this year were We The Kingdom (who opened the show), Koryn Hawthorne, KB, Hope Darst, The Issacs, CeCe Winans, Maverick City Music, Elevation Music, Brandon Lake, Mali Music (who performed with Jonathan McReynolds) and Lauren Daigle.
Equally enjoyed is seeing some of the presenters for the evening, which is always a who’s who of Christian music. The funny banter shared between some of them, illustrated the theme of unity for the evening. Artists like Chris Tomlin, LeCrae, Pastor Mike Jr. (who made his first appearance on the Dove Awards stage), Kevin Quinn, Brooke Ligertwood, Anthony Brown, Sinache, Jason Crabb and many more.
The 52nd GMA Dove Awards came back live in a major way, adding to the legacy and beauty of celebrating the message of the Gospel through its music. Next year’s awards show is already lined up to return to Nashville, October 9th -11th, 2022
The GMA Dove Awards live taping aired on TBN on Friday 10/22 at 8 PM & 10 PM, EST and can be enjoyed online on their website at watch.TBN.org for a reprise. If you would like to catch some of the behind-the-scenes interviews on the red carpet at the Dove Awards, you can visit the 24 Flix Channel on YouTube.
- Writer: Shani Jones @ShaniSpeaksNow