NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The biggest night for Christian music took place last night in Nashville, with awards given to the most talented Christian artists.
Among the big winners at the Dove Awards, which is the most prestigious award given to a Christian musician, worship star Chris Tomin and newcomer Aaron Shust raked in the most accolades with six and three Doves, respectively.
"Chris Tomlin and Aaron Shust deserve their moment to rejoice in the recognition their community has bestowed on them with their multiple Dove Awards," commented John W. Styll, president and CEO of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and presenter of the awards, in a statement, "and it is evident they will be impacting gospel and Christian music for some time to come."
For the second year in a row, Tomlin pulled away with the night's biggest honors: Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. This is in addition to the five previous Dove Awards that he won last year.
"I'm overwhelmed by all this," Tomlin said as he held his awards. "I feel like King David when he was a shepherd kid. His brothers were more talented than he was… yet somehow God has put his hand on him…and on me.
"I'm just always reminded that God must increase, and I must decrease. At the end of the day, it's all about worshipping God," he added.
Shust, who just came onto the Christian music scene, has already made a big stir in taking home some of the other big prizes including Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and New Artist of the Year. He has made a strong start to his career.
When asked by a journalist backstage whether things will change for him the next day after garnering the accolades, a teary-eyed Shust confessed, "I'm a sinner today, and I'll still be a sinner tomorrow."
"It's just an honor to be here," he added. Shust also thanked his mom for letting him hold a turkey baster and sing as a kid.
Among the other top winners were Casting Crowns (Group of the Year), Natalie Grant (Female Vocalist of the Year), Jars of Clay (Music Video of the Year), and Ed Cash (Producer of the Year).
"The Dove Awards is evidence that the message of the good news of the Gospel knows no musical boundaries and reaches across generations, genres and cultures," added Styll. "The artists, songwriters and producers honored tonight may come from many different backgrounds, but they are connected by excellence, creativity and passion and we congratulate each on their individual honors."
In 43 total categories, various Dove Awards were given out in a variety of genres as well including pop/contemporary, rock/contemporary, rock, rap/hip hop, inspirational, worship, country, and gospel, among several others.
Incorporated into the night's festivities were 15 performances comprising of 25 different recording artists. Some of the many stars that staged shows were Tomlin, Shust, TobyMac, Kirk Franklin, Brian Littrell, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mandisa, and MercyMe, amongst many other huge names.
The awards showcase was presented live at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, and was hosted by Natalie Grant, Brian Littrell and Donnie McClurkin. The program was recorded and will air in May on television.
The Dove Awards will also be featured on the front page of www.music.yahoo.com, one of the biggest online music sections. The site will host special online coverage of the ceremony including video streams of five performances, photos, and a backstage recap written by CCM Magazine. The web page receives 20 million daily impressions, according to the GMA.
Christian Post correspondent Courtney Lee in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.