Gospel Music Association to Hold Star-Studded Dinner to 'Save the GMA'

Some of the biggest names in Christian music will unite next month in support of the Gospel Music Association by performing at an exclusive dinner concert at Nashville's famed Loveless Café.

The "Save the GMA" event – which will include performances from Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Natalie Grant, Kirk Franklin, Point of Grace, Fisk Jubilee Singers and The Booth Brothers – will be held on Oct. 12 in response to financial needs the GMA has, in part due to the economic recession.

The event's producer, Bown Bannister, and the performing artists are all donating their time and expenses to support the GMA, which has championed Christian music for more than 45 years.

Tickets to the event are going for $1,000 – $925 of which will go toward the GMA Foundation as a tax-deductible donation – and are available for the public to purchase, according to an announcement this past Thursday by the GMA.

"It's an honor to join Casting Crowns, Amy, Kirk, MercyMe, and all of the other artists on this lineup, in support of the GMA," commented award-winning artist Michael W. Smith. "This organization has been an incredible support to so many of us as we've built our ministries and careers, and we want to do all we can to help ensure a solid platform from which it can operate."

Though the evening of entertainment has been billed as a "Save the GMA" event, Ed Leonard, chairman of the GMA Board of Directors, stressed that the dinner concert is intended to do more than just "save the GMA" and that the Board of Directors is committed to building a GMA that is relevant for the future.

"We all believe in the power of Christian and Gospel music to change lives," he said. "The GMA allows us to join together, setting aside personal agendas, to accomplish things we cannot accomplish separately, to ultimately extend the reach of the good news of the Gospel through music of all styles. That is a mission worth pursuing."

Notably, however, the current economic recession and the shifting shape of the gospel music industry has forced the GMA to implement a series of changes this year including the resignation of its president and CEO, John Styll.

According to the GMA, the streamlining of the organization has been fueled by the economy as well as the changing profile of GMA's membership – the most important audience it serves and the association's principal source of income.

While record labels, radio stations, retailers and other traditional categories of members continue to support the GMA, an increasing percentage of GMA's membership 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.

"The GMA, like many other organizations and businesses, has taken hits during this prolonged downturn in our economy," reported Leonard earlier this 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."

Aside from Styll's departure from the helm, the GMA has also scaled down the number of other paid staff positions and begun returning to a more volunteer-driven operation.

Though Styll is no longer serving as GMA president and CEO, the former CCM Magazine publisher still remains a permanent board member of the GMA.

The board, meanwhile, will be substituting a managerial level professional to oversee staff at the GMA office.