Christian Singer Chris Tomlin Leads Dove Award Nominations

Christian singer Chris Tomlin led the Dove Award nominations for gospel music on Wednesday with nine, including artist of the year and male vocalist of year.

Also leading the field of nominees, with six each, were bands Relient K and the David Crowder Band and female vocalist of the year nominees Natalie Grant and Joy Williams.

The nominations for the 37th annual Dove Awards, which recognize artists in the Christian music industry, were announced Wednesday afternoon in downtown Nashville. The awards from the Gospel Music Association will be presented April 5 at the Grand Ole Opry House.

"I'm kind of in shock," said Grant, whose fourth album "Awaken" was one of the top sellers of 2005.

"For me it's overwhelming. I had of couple of record deals fall through earlier in my career, so it's been a long road. I had to work so hard to get here."

One of gospel music's most prolific producers, Brown Bannister, is up for seven nominations, including producer of the year, along with six album nominations.

Several of 2005's biggest Dove Award winners returned with five nominations, including Switchfoot, Jeremy Camp, Casting Crowns, Crabb Family and Israel Houghton.

BarlowGirl and Third Day rounded out of the field of artists with five nods a piece.

This year's "American Idol" winner, Carrie Underwood, made her Dove nominations debut with a nod for her song, "Jesus Take the Wheel."