“Just like everything else in 2020, it’s unlike anything we’ve done before.”
That’s how Gospel Music Association President Jackie Patillo described the 51st annual Dove Awards, which aired Friday night (Oct. 30) on TBN and the GMA Dove Awards Facebook page.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s show did not include the usual elements like award presentations, acceptance speeches and a live audience. Instead, pre-recorded award announcements and musical performances were interspersed with artist interviews and personal stories.
“This year’s restrictions have allowed us to dive deeper into the impact that this music has had on each of our lives,” Patillo said during a pre-telecast event livestreamed on Thursday (Oct. 29).
Under the theme Carry the Change, the show focused on unity, diversity, trusting God through difficult circumstances and being a light to the world.
It began with artists emphasizing the theme by quoting Scripture and speaking the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
During interview segments, the artists spoke about the challenges and lessons learned from the pandemic. Even though their careers were directly affected by COVID-19-related shutdowns, they shared hope that God would use the challenges of the year for good.
“I feel like God using something that was meant for curse has been a blessing in disguise for us that serve Him because, more than anything, it has forced us to be still and know that He is God,” said Christine D’Clario, who won Spanish Language Recorded Song of the Year for “Loco Amor.”
“I think the people that allow this year to do the surgery, to do the stretching, by the time we get to 2021 and beyond we’ll be better people for it,” said Jonathan McReynolds, whose song “People” won Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year.
Also included were stories behind the songs and ways the music has encouraged and inspired fans.
Nigerian artist Sinach, writer of Song of the Year winner “Way Maker,” shared about her inspiration for the song.
“I wrote the song in my heart, and who knew this would become a song that would assure the whole world of who He is?” she said.
Sinach later joined artists Leeland and Mandisa for a pre-recorded performance of the song.
The artists emphasized music’s power to inspire and unify, even during difficult times.
“I think music can somehow break through the noise of a loud world,” said artist Matthew West.
Pastor Mike Jr. shared about a woman who was encouraged by his song “Big” while undergoing cancer treatment.
“Gospel music is the only genre of music where the message plus the melody equals a miracle,” he said.
Zach Williams, who won Songwriter of the Year – Artist, said he heard from a radio station that a listener had been depressed and about to commit suicide, but stopped himself after hearing Williams’ song “Fear is a Liar” playing on the radio.
“For me, as an artist, knowing what God has put on my heart and the message that He’s given me, I think when you hear stories like that, that’s so much better than an award,” he said.
The show concluded with a performance from Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year Tauren Wells, joined by D’Clario, Jekalyn Carr and Jenn Johnson.
Other notable winners include Artist of the Year for KING & COUNTRY; Gospel Artist of the Year Tasha Cobbs Leonard; New Artist of the Year We The Kingdom; and Southern Gospel Artist of the Year Joseph Habedank.
Travis Greene’s “Broken Record” won Gospel Worship Album of the Year, while “Something Has To Break (Live)” by Kierra Sheard won Gospel Worship Recorded Song of the Year. Kirk Franklin’s album “LONG LIVE LOVE” won Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year.
Hillsong Worship’s “Awake” won Worship Album of the Year. The Worship Recorded Song of the Year was “The Blessing (Live)” by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Elevation Worship.
Last year’s Artist of the Year, Lauren Daigle, won Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year for “Rescue.” Tauren Wells’ album “Citizen of Heaven” won Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year.
The Southern Gospel Album of the Year was “Pure Love” by Legacy Five, while the Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year was “The Power of an Empty Tomb” by The Erwins.
Selah won Inspirational Album of the Year (“Firm Foundation”) and Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year (“Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me”).
The Rap/Hip Hop Album of the year was “MOOD // DOOM” by Social Club Misfits, while Kanye West’s song “Follow God” won Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year.
Skillet won both Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year for “Victorious” and Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year for “Legendary.”
The Inspirational Film of the Year was “I Still Believe,” based on the life of artist Jeremy Camp.
The show can be viewed on demand at TBN.org. The pre-telecast, during which many of the award winners were announced, can be viewed on the GMA Dove Awards Facebook page. A complete list of winners is available at doveawards.com.