TobyMac won artist of the year and Casting Crowns singer Mark Hall collected four trophies at Wednesday's 39th annual Dove Awards, which celebrate the best in gospel music.
"Are you kidding? This is crazy, man. I thought I was Mr. Pre-Televised awards," joked TobyMac, whose real name is Toby McKeehan. "God has been faithful time and again to surround me with people that sharpen me and that make me better."
TobyMac also won artist of the year in 1996 as a member of dc Talk. His latest album, "Portable Sounds," debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.
Besides artist of the year, he took home Dove Awards for rock/contemporary album for "Portable Sounds" and short-form video for his hit "Boomin."
Hall, who was the night's leading nominee with six, won song of the year and pop/contemporary recorded song of the year for "East to West," which he co-wrote with Bernie Herms.
His participation on the multi-artist worship project "Glory Revealed" brought Hall individual honors for special event album of the year for the CD, as well as inspirational recorded song of the year for "By His Wounds."
His band also had four nominations and won three: group of the year, best pop/contemporary album of the year for "The Altar and the Door" and pop/contemporary recorded song of the year for "East to West."
"I'm so thankful just to get to be part of the songs," Hall said.
Chris Tomlin won male vocalist of the year and Natalie Grant was awarded female vocalist. Those were their third consecutive wins in their respective categories.
"This is quite amazing. Thank God for letting me sing and give a voice to people around the world to worship him," Tomlin said. "This is unbelievable that God would continue to use us all like this, and I'm very, very grateful."
Grant, who gave a soulful performance of "Bring It All Together" with country star Wynonna Judd, said she was thankful for the freedom to express herself freely.
"I think we forget often what a privilege it is to be in a country where we can record music that boldly proclaims our passion for Jesus Christ. What a gift," Grant said.
Brandon Heath won new artist of the year. Heath's "I'm Not Who I Was," a song about forgiveness that he says was inspired by an old photograph of someone he hadn't seen in a while, was nominated for song of the year.
Cindy Morgan won the songwriter of the year award _ her eighth Dove trophy _ and Ricky Skaggs and the Whites collected bluegrass recorded song for "Salt of the Earth."
"I think of all things this probably means the most to me because all those years ago I didn't set out to be a singer, just a songwriter," said Morgan, who wrote "How You Live (Turn Up the Music)" for Point of Grace. Morgan was named new artist of the year 15 years ago.
The contemporary gospel album award went to Israel & New Breed for "A Deeper Level."
"My first ministry is not what you see onstage. It's the church I pastor. It's got four members _ my wife and my three kids," said the group's singer-songwriter Israel Houghton.
The evening's performers included "American Idol" alum Phil Stacey, Chris Sligh and Mandisa with Amy Grant in a musical tribute to Michael W. Smith.
Switchfoot played "This is Home," a song from the soundtrack of the upcoming film "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."
The Doves closed with a salute to the Grand Ole Opry stage, where the show was held. Charlie Daniels led the house through a rousing version of the hymn "I'll Fly Away."
The Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards were broadcast live on XM Satellite radio and on the Gospel Music Channel. In past years the awards were syndicated and shown later on tape.
On the Net:
Dove Awards: http://www.gospelmusic.org
(This version CORRECTS previous spelling of TobyMac, per Dove Awards official; singer's official Web site is inconsistent on capitalization and spacing.)
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