Christian music fans across the nation will be tuning in Thursday night for the live broadcast of the highly anticipated 40th Annual GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards.
Set to begin at 8 p.m. ET, the two-hour awards show will feature multiple musical performances from dozens of artists as well as appearances from a number of well-known celebrities, including Miss California Carrie Prejean, who drew the attention of the media this week after expressing her support for traditional marriage during Sunday's Miss USA pageant.
Performers this year include established Christian favorites Mary Mary, Chris Tomlin, Natalie Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, as well as newcomers Francesca Battistelli, Chris Sligh, and Tenth Avenue North, among many others.
Also to take place will be a special tribute to Southern Gospel legend Dottie Rambo, who died in a tragic bus accident last year, and – one hour before the show – the world premiere of a new documentary special, "From Idol to Inspiration," which explorers the impact of popular reality show "American Idol" on the Christian music industry and vice-versa.
The main event, of course, will be the presentation of the Dove Awards, which will be handed out in 43 categories, including two – Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year – that will be determined, in part, by fan voting. This year, for the first time, 1/3 of the total votes from fans will count for the total vote for these two categories, while GMA member voting will count for 2/3.
Leading the pack in nominations this year is renowned Christian worship leader and song writer Chris Tomlin with seven nods, followed closely by CCM singer and songwriter Natalie Grant with six. Both Tomlin and Grant are also vying again for "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "Female Vocalist of the Year," respectively, after having won in their respective categories for three consecutive years to date.
This year also marks the second straight time that the Dove Awards will be televised live by the Gospel Music Channel after years syndicating the event and having it shown later on tape.
The rapidly growing television network is currently available in more than 45 million homes in all major markets on the major cable systems as well as on DIRECTV on Channel 338.
The 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards encores on GMC at 10 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET.
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Correction: Thursday, April 23, 2009:
In an April 23 story about the 40th Annual GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards, The Christian Post erroneously reported that two of the awards – Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year – would go to the artists who drew the largest number of fan votes. According to the Gospel Music Association, the cumulative fan vote will count for 1/3 of the total votes for these two categories. GMA member voting will count for 2/3 of the total vote.