It was a big night for MercyMe at the Dove Awards last night. The band won Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (Artist) award for Bart Millard, and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for their latest, Lifer.

“We’ve been a band for 23 years…yay for old people!” Millard said. “I can’t say enough that Christian music saved my life. It means the world to us.”

Zach Williams, opened the show with his powerful Chain Breaker and won for New Artist of the Year.

Reba McEntire was moved by the award she won. Her Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope won Bluegrass/Country/Roots Album of the Year. McEntire took a long pause and looked down at her award. “It’s not mine. It’s God’s. We’ll give him all the glory. I’ll put it up on the mantle, and think of Him every time I look at it.”

CeCe Winans won two awards – Gospel Artist of the Year and Contemporary Gospel/Urban Album of the Year for Let Them Fall In Love. She expressed gratitude to be “representing Jesus in a world that needs Jesus.” “Jesus is still the answer for every problem,” she said.

This year’s Doves had as much harmony as ever. Performers like Matt Redman and Tasha Cobbs blended their voices for their co-written song Gracefully Broken, and rapper Steven Malcom breakdanced alongside pop singer Hollyn on Party In The Hills.

They stood, arms outstretched for Hillsong Worship's What a Powerful Name – named Song of The Year on Tuesday – clapped along to Hezekiah Walker’s  Better, and listened intently as special honoree Pat Boone opened his acceptance speech with an a cappella Jesus is Lord.

At night’s end, co-hosts Kari Jobe and Tasha Cobbs introduced the final performer: Reba McEntire.

“We gotta give this world back to God,” she sang, and the room roared. Finally, she carried the audience home with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, backed by the Dove Awards Fan Choir and special guests Erica Campbell, Tauren Wells and Joseph Habedank.

Trinity Broadcasting Network will exclusively air the awards show at 8 p.m. October 22.

2017 Dove Awards top winners

Artist of the Year: MercyMe

Song of the Year: What A Beautiful Name (writers) Ben Fielding, Brooke Ligertwood

Songwriter of the Year (Artist): Bart Millard

Songwriter of the Year (Non-Artist): Bernie Herms

Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year: Casting

Southern Gospel Artist of the Year: Gaither Vocal Band

Gospel Artist of the Year: CeCe Winans

New Artist of the Year: Zach Williams (photo)

Producer of the Year: Bernie Herms

Gaither Music Group and UP TV have entered a joint partnership this fall with special programming from the Gaither HOMECOMING brand scheduled to air on the network. Starting October 21, the programming, will be featured at 12 noon ET on Saturdays, starting with Alan Jackson’s Precious Memories television special, a show that has struck a chord with fans everywhere.  The show features Jackson’s stage performances of songs from his first gospel recording, Precious Memories, originally released in 2006.  

Recorded to honor his mother’s request that he release an album of gospel classics, the Precious Memories audio recording quickly made its way to the top of the sales charts and into the hearts of fans, selling over 1.8 million copies and earning Platinum certification.

Taped at the historic Ryman, the DVD collection captures Jackson’s familiar, warm tones singing signature renditions of traditional hymns and gospel favorites.  The DVD also includes behind-the-scenes interviews with him, his mother and his wife as he reflects on his musical roots.

The Gaither HOMECOMING airings will showcase the music of Joey+Rory and Elvis among others while UP Faith & Family will feature such artists as Joey+Rory, Mark Lowry, The Statler Brothers, David Phelps, The Isaacs, Guy Penrod, Alabama, Sandi Patty, Alan Jackson, Jimmy Fortune, The Oak Ridge Boys, Johnny Cash and more in addition to several Christmas programs for the holiday season.

UP, which is in nearly 70 million homes, can be found on most cable systems, AT&T U-Verse, DIRECTV. and on subscription video on demand.

Jesus Culture worship leaders, Bryan & Katie Torwalt released their Christmas EP last week. It feature three classic Christmas songs along with a revisited song, "Emmanuel (God With Us Forever)," from their 2016 project Champion.

"We ended up binge listening to Christmas music pretty much the whole month of June this year as we selected what songs to go on the EP," shares Bryan & Katie about their new holiday album. "We love Christmas music so much that it was really hard to narrow it down. In the end we went with some classics that make us smile every time we hear them, and we loved getting to sing them. We kept the songs in that classic 50s and 60s sound with lots of strings, choir, upright bass and Christmas bells. We wanted to create Christmas music that we would want to listen to, a sound that reminded us of everything we love about Christmas."

Bryan and Katie are worship leaders and songwriters who have a passion to see lives changed through encounters with the presence of God. And it is no different with their new holiday album.

"The beautiful thing about Christmas time is that everything points to God and his Kingdom," they explain. "The birth of Jesus is at the center, and it’s incredible how our awareness of Him increases during the Christmas season, but even the acts of kindness and generosity, or emphasis on family are all in the heart of God. We hope our music brings joy in moments when people need it, and that people would become more aware of God, who is relentlessly good in the middle of it all."

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