Observations On Dove Nominations

by Mark Smeby - Editor of the Music Channel at

It's always intriguing to see what the approximately 6,000 members of the Gospel Music Association deem worthy of recognition through the Dove Awards process. Sure, it's just an awards show, but it's one where people are placed up on a pedestal over their peers and congratulated for their fine artistry. I understand honoring pieces of work, but to say this or that person is actually the best rings a tad bit of idolatry.

There are a few things that stick to me as thought provoking that I'd like to bring up here.

This may be a minor detail here, but I'm pretty amazed at how the GMA announces the "tally" of Dove nominations that certain artists receive. For instance, the official press release says that Toby McKeehan received the most nominations, earning 10 nods, including four mentions as a member of {{dc Talk}}. {{Steven Curtis Chapman}} followed closely behind with nine, and {{Michael W. Smith}} received eight. That sounds impressive and all, but how many awards could these guys actually walk away with come April 20th?

You see, the nominations are counted oddly. If an artist writes and records a nominated song, that counts as two nominations for the artist.

So, in actuality, Michael W. Smith can only win seven Doves, even though he received eight nominations. Get it? It gets trickier with Toby McKeehan and his 10 - Song of Year (one for writer), Rock Song (one as artist, one as writer), Urban Song (one as writer - {{Katinas}}), Pop Album (one as producer - {{Out of Eden}}), Spanish Album (one as producer - Katinas), Special Event Album (one as artist - {{Prince of Egypt}} project), and two Video nods as artist. That only makes nine, so somebody somewhere added one nomination in somewhere - I dunno! Needless to say, it appears that he can only walk away with eight awards on Dove night.

Steven Curtis Chapman, while receiving nine nominations - not including a Recorded Music Packaging nomination - can only walk away with six Doves, because of double nods he received as artist & writer for two, and artist & producer for one.

The verbiage is not "So and so is nominated for so many number of awards" - they say "So and so received so many nominations." From a publicity standpoint, the second one is going to be the bigger number, of course! Interesting.

I love that artists from the same labels are "going up" against each other - eliminating concerns of "block voting" or political maneuvering by labels to get certain projects nominated.

Here's some rants on specific categories...

Song of the Year
I love that Burlap To Cashmere, Big Tent Revival, Third Day and Fernando got noticed - although I'm pulling for "This Is Your Time" - we need more songs written that are filled with the gospel, yet are completely relevant to anyone listening, regardless of their faith.

Cindy Morgan deserves being noticed for years of great writing, but she didn't write much that was popular this past year. It's a joy to see Fernando Ortega here, as well as Darlene Zschech. Interesting that SCC isn't mentioned here - isn't he supposed to be in this category?

Male Vocalist
It's great to see that Fred Hammond got noticed for being SO amazing for so many years. Fernando - another joy to see him here. Interesting that SCC's not here also. What's happening? I personally wished for Bebo to show up somewhere, but here especially.

Female Vocalist
Jen Knapp - amazing, Leigh Nash - amazing, Nichole Nordeman - amazing, Kathy Troccoli - classic, Jaci Velasquez - hugely popular. CeCe seems to always been here - and Rebecca St. James seems to have had a great year

No dc Talk or Jars of Clay and I thought maybe FFH would show up here too. Though it's great to see Audio Adrenaline, as well as Sixpence and Third Day. I pray that The Cathedrals win this.

Please let Sixpence win this, if only for Leigh's gospel-filled time on David Letterman.

New Artist
Bebo seemed a shoe-in, as did Winans Phase II or The Katinas. Each of the nominees made huge splashes over the past couple of years. It's nice to not have one sure winner in the nominees as in year's past. It's about time our industry breaks more than one new artist a year.

Kirk Franklin or Steve Taylor would seem like good choices for this award, although squeezing in Todd Collins and newcomer Monroe Jones is very exciting.

Artists I'm happy to see get noticed
Switchfoot, Karen Peck & New River, The Katinas, Chasing Furies, All Together Separate, Pete Stewart, Out of Eden, Selah

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