Since 1964, the GMA Dove Awards has supported the spectrum of music found in the gospel/Christian community, celebrating a multitude of styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, urban gospel, R&B, hip-hop, Southern gospel, bluegrass, country, Latin and more.
“The Dove Awards is the only stage that all genres of Christian/gospel music are represented,” says GMA President/Executive Director Jackie Patillo. “There are many different styles, but the same message.”
Lauren Daigle, Hillsong UNITED, Chris Tomlin, Kirk Franklin, and Bill Gaither are among the top-nominated artists for tonight’s (Oct. 11) event, which will take place at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville for a fourth consecutive year.
Artist of the Year nominees boast rock-pop duo For KING & COUNTRY, worship band Hillsong UNITED, pop newcomer Daigle, CCM veteran TobyMac, and hip-hop artist Lecrae. Co-hosting the festivities are For KING & COUNTRY and gospel entertainer Tye Tribbett.
According to research from the GMA, in 2015 CCM accounted for 34 percent of sales in the Christian and gospel music genre. Gospel music accounted for 18 percent, worship held 14 percent, Christian rock 11 percent, and Southern gospel six percent.
Christian hip-hop has seen rapid growth in listenership over the past few years. In 2014, Lecrae’s project Anomaly debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. His seven studio albums and mixtapes have sold more than 1.5 million copies.
Patillo says, “We continue to see that genre emerge from a very grassroots promotional level, where they don’t have traditional radio like CCM, Southern gospel and black gospel has, but their presence has become huge. I think our rap and hip-hop success is definitely a testament that God raises up who he wants to. The music is reaching that culture of people, and more. It makes how you sound and how you look not the impetus, but the truth is the impetus.”
While music fans may be aware of the main GMA Dove awards event that is held each year, Patillo and her team are responsible for multiple shows to accommodate the Dove Awards’ 42 categories.
“I’m not putting together one show. It’s really two shows with several mini-shows around it. The pre-show at 2 p.m. is still a two-hour show where we give out the majority of the awards, about 32 of them, so the pre-show is a show all in and of itself. The audience is mainly the nominees.” Blanca and Travis Greene will co-host the pre-telecast awards.
The GMA, a staff of three, counts on a team of sound, production, and lighting crew, as well as approximately 150 volunteers to make the show come together. “There are a lot of moving parts, to say the least.”
Patillo’s own background in A&R at Verity Music Group has proven beneficial in putting together the annual awards show. “It really helped serve a purpose, because I worked with all genres as well. We try to represent all the styles, based on the nominees. So far, it’s felt very natural the way we have sequenced the show stylistically,” she says.
Patillo credits Lipscomb University president L. Randolph Lowry for helping to bring the Dove Awards back to Nashville in 2013. “He really caught the vision of the impact of music on our culture and what it means to these younger artists,” says Patillo. “We have all of our events at the Allen arena. The GMA office is located across the street from the university. We couldn’t do this if it weren’t for the generosity of Lipscomb University.”
Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Love. Amplified.”
“Our music is really about the message, and our message is the message of love. It is our aim to be loud and proud at the Dove Awards and so we are going to turn up the volume and have a celebration that we consider love amplified.”
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) will air the main awards show on Sunday, Oct. 16.
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