ASCAP hosted its 38th annual Christian Music Awards celebration on Monday (Sept. 26) at Rocketown in Nashville.
Ben Glover was honored with his fifth ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter of the Year, and picked up the ASCAP Christian Music Song of the Year award for “Flawless,” recorded by MercyMe and co-written with David Garcia. The song was published by 9 T One Songs, Capitol CMG, D Soul Music, MercyMe Music, and Wet As A Fish Music. Glover picked up honors for seven additional most-performed songs, including “Shoulders,” recorded by For King & Country; “Jesus Loves Me,” recorded by Chris Tomlin; “Come As You Are” recorded by Crowder; “That Was Then, This Is Now,” recorded by Josh Wilson; “More of You” and “Through All Of It” recorded by Colton Dixon; and “Save My Life” recorded by Sidewalk Prophets.
“This one feels really special to me. It’s been a hard year for me personally, so this feels really humbling to have this happen,” said Glover, who welcomed his parents and children Emerson and Easton as guests for the evening. “Thank you to David Garcia for your continued friendship and partnership. We’ve had a great run together and it’s awesome to have those kind of people in your life. I’m thankful to be a part of this industry and do what we do.” Glover also thanked his publishing home at Capitol CMG.
The evening launched with remarks from host Michael W. Smith, while Phil Keaggy performed “Not Be Moved” from his recent album All At Once.
ASCAP’s President and Chairman Paul Williams, ASCAP Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews, Vice President of Nashville Membership Michael Martin, Senior Creative Director Mike Sistad, Director of Strategic Services Kele Currier and Creative Manager Beth Brinker were on hand during the evening to honor the writers and publishers with 30 most-performed song awards.
Williams was candid in sharing some of his personal journey with the industry audience. “I am a songwriter and a Christian. My road to Damascus was rehab 26 years ago, and the first thing I did when I left rehab was get baptized. I didn’t want another day to pass,” he said with the applause of the audience. “I’ve been president of ASCAP for eight years. I love coming to this. We need your message, we need your music, we need your ministry, because the world is absolutely insane out there. What I feel in this room is the elegance of kindness, trusting in the Lord and carrying your message to people when they need it…I’m so impressed with everything you do. God bless you and your journey. Let’s have more of your music again, and again, and again. Thank you for making me feel at home every time I come here to Nashville.”
Matthew West was honored with the ASCAP Songwriter-Artist honor for a third year, having earned the honor in 2013 and 2015. In addition to his own hit songs, West has amassed more than 130 songwriting credits. He also earned three ASCAP most-performed song awards for his own chart-topping singles, “Grace Wins” and “Day One,” as well as “Just Be Held,” recorded by Casting Crowns.
West spoke of the inspiration he has taken from both Smith and from Reverend Billy Graham throughout his life and career. “One of the things I’ve noticed is how many parallels there are in my spiritual journey with my journey as a songwriter. One of the biggest things is those days I don’t feel like opening my Bible but I dig in anyway, God shows up. Likewise, when I sit down and write a song, even when I don’t feel like it, something special shows up, too. This is proof of that. At the end of the day, maybe have you guys say about me that I set as much of an example as a follower of Christ as I have as a songwriter.”
Capitol CMG Publishing was honored as the Christian Music Publisher of the Year for the 14th consecutive year. This year, they published 16 award-winning titles.
The ASCAP Golden Note Award was presented to Mark Lowry, in recognition of his career and lasting impact on modern worship music. He was honored with remarks by Smith as well as comedian Chonda Pierce. The Brentwood Baptist Choir stunned the industry audience with a 122-member performance of Lowry’s well-known Christmas song, “Mary Did You Know.”
Other performances during the evening included Glover and Garcia performing “Flawless,” as well as Francesca Battistelli’s rendition of “Holy Spirit,” and Jaci Velasquez’s performance of “Trust You.” Velasquez was also surprised with the ASCAP Creative Voice Award, honoring her work as a singer, songwriter, actress, author and radio host.
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