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Casting Crowns awarded Best Group again at GMAs

McDonough youth minister is lead singer


Morris Abernathy/BP

Casting Crowns and lead singer Mark Hall, second from right, received their second Dove Award for Group of the Year during the April 5 Dove Awards in Nashville. Hall serves as youth minister at Eagle’s Landing Baptist Church in McDonough.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — Casting Crowns and lead singer Mark Hall, youth minister at Eagle’s Landing Baptist Church in McDonough, took home their second-in-a-row Group of the Year honor at the 37th GMA Music Awards April 5.

In addition, the group was honored for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Lifesong.

The awards continued a trend of GMA success for the band. In 2004 and 2005 Hall was named songwriter of the year. Between them Hall and Casting Crowns have taken home six Dove Awards in the last three years.

In accepting the group’s award, Hall commented, “A song may change your afternoon, but only God can change your life.”


Honoring a legend

In addition, Hall was part of a collection of musicians to honor Steven Curtis Chapman. Hall joined Jeremy Camp, David Crowder of David Crowder Band and Third Day’s Mac Powell in a special acoustic performance in honor of Chapman. Chapman took home a record-setting 50th Dove Award for his work on the Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe album. Fifty awards is a record unmatched by anyone in any major awards show.

The four singers sat on stools and took turns playing guitar and backing each other up on a string of Chapman’s hits, including “For the Sake of the Call” and “I Will Be Here.” The crowd stood and sang along to “Dive,” the final tribute song. Afterward, an emotional Chapman hugged his wife and climbed on stage to hug the quartet and acknowledge the crowd.

Well-known worship leader Chris Tomlin took home five Dove Awards at the awards, four of them in top categories. In accepting Male Vocalist of the Year honors, Tomlin recounted how he auditioned for a singing group when he was younger and they rejected him, telling him he’d never be a singer.

“So this is pretty cool,” he said to laughter.

Morris Abernathy/BP

Chris Tomlin receives the Dove Award for Artist of the Year at the 37th GMA Music Awards April 6 at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House.

Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God,” which he co-wrote with Jesse Reeves and Ed Cash, was named Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year. Cash received the Producer of the Year award for the second year in a row.

Tomlin also received the coveted Artist of the Year award. Tomlin’s fifth award came from his work on the Narnia album, which won Special Event Album of the Year. Other major awards included a first-time Female Vocalist of the Year award for Natalie Grant. Grant joked that in her career she’s shut down a lot of record labels. Her line thanking Curb Records “for staying in business” got a big laugh. Christa Wells, writer of Grant’s hit “Held,” received the Songwriter of the Year award for the first time.

Rock band The Afters was named New Artist of the Year only a week after being invited to perform their hit song “Beautiful Love” on MTV’s TRL. The group’s musical trajectory includes ties to Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas area.

Also among the winners: Leonardo (who uses just his first name) for Spanish Language of the Year for his self-titled debut album. Leonardo is a member of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., and a former church music minister and worship leader.

A complete list of winners can be viewed at

The show was hosted by gospel superstars Rebecca St. James and Kirk Franklin. Performances ran the gamut from hard-core southern gospel to hard rock. Country music’s mega-band Sawyer Brown performed their recent gospel hit “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand.”