Backstage At The 2006 GMA Music Awards From on stage to press conferences with winners and performers, there was certainly a lot of wonderful and memorable moments to share as The Dove Award was handed out in 42 categories.
Chris Tomlin speaks backstage at the 2006 GMA Music Awards.
The 2006 GMA Music Awards are now behind us, and even though the show is not scheduled to begin television syndication for a couple weeks, we've got the backstage scoop of what happened during the event. From on stage to press conferences with winners and performers, there was certainly a lot of wonderful and memorable moments to share as The Dove Award was handed out in 42 categories.
Hosted by Kirk Franklin and Rebecca St. James (pictured left), the biggest night in Gospel Music kicked off with Israel and the New Breed playing a rousing gospel flavored rendition of his popular worship song "Friend of God." He later brought on Martha Munizzi who continued the high energy opening with "Make It Glorious."
Throughout the show, eight awards were handed out in the major categories with the rest of the awards being announced during the non-televised pre-show. The first award of the show was also the most memorable as Natalie Grant gave an emotional acceptance for Female Vocalist of the Year. This was her fourth nomination in the category, and her first win. "For those of you who have been following my career," said Natalie Grant, "I've closed so many record labels, the first thanks I'd like to give is Curb Records for staying in business!" Natalie's single "Held," from her critically acclaimed album, Awaken, earned songwriter Christa Wells a Dove for Songwriter of the Year.
Answering a question backstage about her nomination, Natalie (pictured left) said "I think the thing you're supposed to say is that it's an honor to be nominated, but after working so hard for so long, it just feels really good! How's that for being honest?"
Chris Tomlin took the award home for Male Vocalist of the Year, edging out fellow nominees Jeremy Camp, Jason Crabb, Mark Hall and David Phelps. Chris spoke about his surprise for winning in a category packed with great singers. "My high school choir director said I'd do anything in life except sing, so this is pretty cool. If God can use my voice to worship God, than that's a good thing." Chris took home five awards, more than any other artist this year, including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year ("How Great Is Our God") and Artist of the Year, after which he read from Psalm 96:1-4. "I thought, what a fitting thing to read if I won," Chris said backstage. "David is the greatest artist of all time."
Also taking home awards in major categories included Kirk Franklin for Urban Album of the Year, The Afters for New Artist of the Year and Casting Crowns accepted Group of the Year for the second year in a row. When asked about how it felt to repeat, lead singer Mark Hall said, "I came tonight thinking last year was our year. I think Chris Tomlin got everything he deserves and more, but this was a neat encouragement and nice surprise for the night."
Producer Ed Cash was one of the evening's other big winners, earning four Doves including Producer of the Year. David Crowder Band and lead member David Crowder were three-time winners along with their producer Tedd T solidifying a win for Rock/Contemporary Album, Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song along with their participation on the Chronicles of Narnia project. Carrie Underwood, of American Idol fame, won her first Dove for Country Recorded Song ("Jesus take the Wheel") and Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell made his first appearance on the list of Dove Award recipients with a Dove for Inspirational Recorded Song for his recording of the Michael English classic, "In Christ Alone."
"I've been blessed beyond measure to win numerous awards," said Brian (pictured left) backstage, talking about the importance of his Dove win amongst his other musical career accomplishments. "But this will be the first I place on my mantle. This is very special for me." Brian also talked about some of the future plans for his solo release, hitting stores in June. "God has really used my success with the Backstreet Boys to help me spread the message of this new record and we've been hearing from places all over the world, so I'm excited about the potential." Brian was asked about future plans and he'll be staying busy with a tour starting in May to promote his new album along with Backstreet Boys hitting the studio again in July. It was exciting to see Brian attending in support of his inspirational album and to hear first hand about his faith and heart to change people's lives. The status that Brian brings with him is certainly something Christian music has never seen before.
The GMA Music Awards is also about artist performances and this year was no different. Southern Gospel group Ernie Haase & the Signature Sound got the crowd clapping and to their feet with their amazing harmonies on "Glory to God in the Highest." Kutless rocked the room with their latest single, "Shut Me Out." Kirk Franklin brought the house down with his title track from Hero. Mark Schultz sang his smash radio hit "I Am." Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown (who also discovered Casting Crowns and recently added Josh Bates to his Beachstreet Records line-up) gave a surprise performance. Third Day performed their GMA Music Award winning song "Cry Out To Jesus." And Rebecca St. James sang a duet with BarlowGirl. Overall, the performances were a great example of the diversity that Gospel music provides to today's Christian music consumer.
The highlight of the show began with MercyMe congratulating Steven Curtis Chapman who received his 50th Dove Award this year for his involvement on the Narnia project, an achievement not met by any other artist. It was followed by a live tribute featuring Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, Mac Powell of Third Day, David Crowder and Jeremy Camp singing "For The Sake of the Call," "I Will Be Here," "Magnificent Obsession," "More to This Life" and "Dive." The performance brought Steven and his wife, Mary Beth, to tears a number of times and the audience to their feet in a very honoring and fitting tribute. "We had the best seat in the house watching Steven and Mary Beth in the front row," said David Crowder. "It was a very special moment to be a part of."
Backstage, Steven (pictured left) talked about his passion for adoption and how it has solved his search for a "visible gospel." Steven and Mary Beth are getting ready to go back to China with his family to live in an orphanage that his foundation has helped build. He also spoke about what's next by continuing to be a student of music to stay as relevant as possible. "God's been convicting me to put my ear to his chest and hear his heartbeat," he said. "When I do that, music typically comes pouring out. The plan is to go back into the studio this fall and we'll see what happens." The end result will more than likely produce a few more Dove Awards, continuing his reign as the most awarded artist is Gospel music history.
The show closed with Kirk Franklin praying over every artist, manager and promoter and introducing the closing moment of the show with Chris Tomlin performing his Dove Award winning song, "How Great is Our God." He then walked off stage with his band while everyone continued to sing the classic hymn, "How Great Thou Art." "The producers asked me not to [walk off stage] before the show," said Chris, backstage at the end of the ceremony. "But I just felt that it was a great way to take some of the focus off me and allow people a time to connect with God in the midst of awards and celebration. I think that happened."
It was a perfect way to close the show, and with Israel and Martha opening with worship, it provided a memorable bookend to a night that highlighted an incredible year in Christian music. 2006 has already produced some great records and we'll have to wait and see if what is quickly becoming the "Year of Rock" will take over the "Year of Praise & Worship."
Posted April 06, 2006 | Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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