While The Weekend and Adele dominated the mainstream charts at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, it was gospel pioneer Kirk Franklin and Hillsong United, one of the most popular worship groups in the world, who garnered the most wins in the gospel/Christian categories.
Held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Billboard Music Award winners were based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital songs sales, radio airplay, streaming, touring and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and other online sources for music. The measurements are tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Music and Next Big Sound and then calculated to choose the winners.
Franklin has two hit singles from his eleventh album, Losing My Religion in in the Top 5 of the Billboard charts. At the show, he won "Top Gospel Artist" beating out Anthony Brown and group therAPy, Tasha Cobbs, Travis Greene and Marvin Sapp. He was also honored with "Top Gospel Album" for "Losing My Religion" as well as "Top Gospel Song" for "Wanna Be Happy?" which is currently at a record-breaking No. 1 on the charts.
"After 20 years, it's just humbling to be nominated with so many new, fresh and iconic gospel artists of our time," Franklin said in an interview with Broadway World on Monday. "I thank God for trusting me with music that still speaks to people today."
Rounding out the "Top Christian Artist" category, Hillsong United beat out Casting Crowns, Lauren Daigle, MercyMe and Chris Tomlin. The Australian worship group also won "Top Christian Song" in which they were nominated twice, but it was their smash hit song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" that won.
On Facebook, United shared their reaction to the win. "WOW — blown away by this! Thank you Billboard for supporting ALL music!" they wrote.
Lastly, newcomer Lauren Daigle took home the "Top Christian Album" award with her debut release, How Can It Be. She competed with heavyweights Hillsong United, TobyMac, and Chris Tomlin but came out on top.
The full-length album has logged more than five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart, and debuted in the Top 30 of the Billboard 200.
"Music is changing my life more and more each day," says Daigle in a statement to The Christian Post. "I'm recognizing the value in being able to communicate through a language that every human on the planet can experience in some form. It's such an honor to see the response of those who have listened and connected with the sounds. Seeing this transfer of communication is priceless. Thank you, Billboard, for allowing the opportunity!"
For a complete list of all the nights winner visit www.billboard.com.