It’s probably my most favourite time of the year in terms of Christian music (ok, make that second favourite behind the WOW Hits list releasing). The annual Dove Awards, in which the nominations used to be announced at the beginning of the year for an awards night to be held in April (and the eligibility period was October the previous year stretching back till November the year before that), are now held and televised in October, with the nominations from April stretching back till May the previous year; and the nominations to me are sometimes more exciting than the main event.
For those who are not certain in what the Dove Awards ceremony entails, the live event (on Gospel Music Channel- now known as UPN, but also on TBN as well this year) takes place in Nashville, Tennessee (except for 2011 and 2012 which was in Atlanta, Georgia); and the ceremony features many live performances from nominated artists (or maybe some artists not nominated), with awards presented throughout the night. There are tributes, artists inducted onto the Hall of Fame, and it’s just a general fun night to celebrate the pop/CCM music industry and what they do for God, and for music in general.
Now while the WOW Hits list is always controversial, the nominees list for Dove Awards every year (which I am uncertain at how they are chosen- unlike the K-Love Fan Awards, in which the winners are voted in by the public from the nomination list) is also skewed as well. With only 5 or 6 nominations chosen for each category of albums and artists, it may seem like while some nominated categories are spot on (in my opinion), others miss the mark. And just like the WOW lists, to me it seems like certain labels are favoured more than others- it’s just a trend that I am seeing of late. For me there also seems to be a over nomination presence of southern gospel and country artists as well, a genre that I am not really a fan of, nor that knowledge of as well, but seeing as this event is held in Nashville, I guess it’s only fitting that the home of country and southern gospel music has a fair share of representatives for the nominations.
So who’s eager to find out my opinions about this year’s Dove Award Nominations? Who wants to know briefly why I think the albums and songs that were chosen were overall ok, with some being fitting and timely and others just plain weird? Read on below to find out!
The Good: Firstly, would you be even prouder if you were a fan of Mandisa? The Grammy Award winning and previous Dove Award nominated female vocalist, and alumni from American Idol, garnered 5 nominations this year, including Song of the Year (“Overcomer”), Artist of the Year, Pop album of the Year (Overcomer), Contemporary Christian Performance and Music Video of the Year (“Overcomer”); and personally I think that she deserves the accolades and praise. To me Overcomer is the best album Mandisa has recorded, with pop, r&b, praise and also some remixes all encompassed in the 2013 recording. With her new remix album releasing this September called Get Up: The Remixes; it seems like Mandisa’s stardom is only going to rise and rise further. Natalie Grant was also recognised for her song “Hurricane” 2 times, and while it’s a shame that the album of the same name that released in October wasn’t nominated at all (I mean, 6 albums for Pop album is too little anyway!), it’s great that the song was given the notice it deserved, given that it was Natalie’s first song she released in 3 years.
Other big winners, and personally well thought out choices include for King and Country for their song “Fix My Eyes” in 2 categories, and their nomination for long form music video of the year (Hope Is What We Crave); Hillsong UNITED’s nominations (“Oceans” is such a great song, and I expect it to receive Song of the Year…); Francesca Battistelli’s album If We’re Honest, probably her most personal and enjoyable album to date; every single music video nomination (although I would have added in Skillet’s “Not Gonna Die” and Newsboys’ “We Believe” or “That’s How You Change The World”); as well as Switchfoot’s nominations for the film and album Fading West. It was also a good surprise to see Sidewalk Prophets and Brandon Heath be nominated for their Christmas album, Michael W Smith for his hymns album, and needtobreathe given recognition for the album Rivers in the Wasteland and their song “Multiplied”. The last category Film Of The Year was also great, and I expect a tight race for the winner (I think Son Of God may win where I would want God’s Not Dead to win, and I think it deserves to also!)
The Indifferent: Well every category of southern gospel was a category that spoke to me in another language, but what I understood was that The Gaithers were not present, but their label certainly was. While I would have liked to see more CCM artists present for song of the year, the reality of the situation is that almost every Christian band and artist out there right now, owes their start indirectly to country and southern gospel music, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the great percentage chunk of gospel artists present. I was also indifferent about the rap categories, the children’s albums, the Spanish albums and the musical performances/choral collections.
The Bad: The omission of Group Of The Year, Male Vocalist and Female Vocalists were quite puzzling, and in my opinion, a move that may backfire- given that Artist of The Year did not balloon out to 20 nominations or so to cover for the missing categories. There were also many artists missing all together, but I will reserve this for later on.
The Smart: Red Roots, a CCM/country trio of triplet sisters, released their 3rd and probably most successful and enjoyable album to date this year, called Triplicity; and I think it was smart to place them in the mix for a Dove Award nomination, for Country album of the Year- is it their first nomination ever? If you haven’t heard their albums yet, I encourage you to check it out. Ellie Holcomb’s nomination for Pop album of the Year (As Sure As The Sun), and JJ Heller’s nomination for Inspirational album of the Year (I Dream Of You) were also both equally surprising, given that they are both independent artists, yet it was a pleasant surprise in my opinion as they are both deserving. Another welcome nomination was the nomination of Selah’s hit song “You Amaze Us” for Inspirational Song of the Year, given that the song might have been outside of the period. Anyway, I won’t tell about that if you won’t…
The Puzzling: Frankly, Red’s EP Release The Panic: Recalibrated shouldn’t have been nominated, as it was an EP, not an album, may I suggest swapping it out with Nine Lashes’ From Water To War? Why was Everfound, who was nominated for Rock/Contemporary album of the Year, wasn’t nominated for New Artist of the Year? Most of the artists present as nominations for Record Packaging of the Year this year only had that one nomination and that’s it- that probably could be insulting these artists, but I guess you can’t really choose albums from already nominated artists in that category if the album cover is not presentable… The absence of Seth Mosley, Ben glover, David Garcia, and Jason Ingram, from the Producer Of The Year nominations, also was puzzling, however I guess you only have so many spots, and it is a juggling act trying to please almost every single genre.
The Omitted Artists/Albums: Newsboys (Restart, “Live With Abandon”, “We Believe”), MercyMe (Welcome To The New, Artist Of The Year, “Shake”, “Greater”), Steven Curtis Chapman (The Glorious Unfolding, “Love Take Me Over”, “The Glorious Unfolding”, Song of the Year, Artist of the Year), and Building 429 (We Won’t Be Shaken, “We Won’t Be Shaken, “Press On”, Artist of the Year) were the artists that were completely looked over that I think should have been present, in the categories mentioned in the brackets above, as well for the albums and songs above as well. Phil Wickham for “This Is Amazing Grace” and Worship album of the Year was expected, but wasn’t to be. Dara Maclean, Jimmy Needham, Chris August, and Unspoken (There should be R&B /soul added to the categories for artists like these) were also missing.
So there you have it. A nominations list (which can be viewed here) that is flawed yet still has good choices. The analysis I just gave above is just my thoughts, and while no solutions are known now, maybe The Dove Awards are redundant as much as the WOW Hits series. What do you think? Tell us your ideal Dove Awards nominations list? We’d love for you to comment!