Some of the biggest names in Christian music came together for an exclusive dinner concert Monday night to support the mission of the Gospel Music Association.
The "Save the GMA" event – which featured performances by Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Natalie Grant, Kirk Franklin, and Point of Grace, among others– drew a crowd of more than 350 and an online audience of nearly 10,000.
By the night's end, the event raised more than $350,000.
"While tonight we've come together to help the GMA navigate through some immediate challenges, this assembly also offers us a unique blessing to renew the commitment to our community, and to build a GMA that is relevant for the future," GMA Board of Directors chairman Ed Leonard told the near-capacity crowd at Nashville's famed Loveless Café.
The concert was held as the GMA has had to implement a series of changes this year due to the current economic recession and the shifting shape of the gospel music industry.
Last month, GMA's president and CEO, John Styll, stepped down from the position as part of an effort to streamline the organization. The organization has also scaled down the number of other paid staff and has been aiming to return to a more volunteer-driven operation.
"The GMA, like many other organizations and businesses, has taken hits during this prolonged downturn in our economy," Leonard reported last month. "It has forced the GMA Board to evaluate our association's current business model and to acknowledge that in order to meet current obligations and needs of our members, and to ensure GMA's vitality in the future; we needed to make some significant changes."
The results of Monday's dinner concert should be a significant help to the organization, whose principal source of income comes from its membership.
Though the GMA once boasted a membership of 4,000, the association today reports around 3,000 members - an increasing percentage of which is made up of independent artists, songwriters and musicians and other small music business professionals who are looking to GMA for community, networking and advocacy.
According to Leonard, plans are underway to help steer the GMA through the economic storm, including the revamping of staffing, events, membership, and "all aspects of our operations."
"GMA's mission has been and will continue to be to expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music," said the chairman.
"We are grateful to all those who have partnered with us in the last 45 years and will continue to do so in the future as we fulfill a vital purpose," he added.
Since 1964, the Gospel Music Association has served as the face and voice for the Christian/Gospel music community and has been dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, black gospel, R&B, hip hop, southern gospel, country, and more.
Every year for the past four decades, the GMA has produced the Dove Awards – the longest running and most prestigious televised awards ceremony recognizing achievement in all genres of Christian and Gospel music.
The association also puts on two other major events - "GMA Music Week" and "IMMERSE: GMA's Music Training Experience."
Its sister organization, the GMA Foundation, operates the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame