Singer Michael W. Smith again wins top honors at Christian music's version of the Grammys


Friday, April 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ For the second straight year, contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith earned the top award of best artist at the Dove Awards on Thursday night.

In all, Smith claimed four of Christian music's version of the Grammys _ including best male vocalist _ bringing his total to 41 since 1987.

``Somebody asked me backstage, 'Does this really ever get old? Do you ever really get tired of it?''' Smith said in accepting his third best artist award in five years.

``I said, 'You know what? I'll always be grateful because it is an honor and a great responsibility to be in this business and be about the things of God.'''

But money and awards don't bring peace, Smith said. ``I just want to fall in love with God and be his man,'' he said.

Christian pop star Nichole Nordeman, expecting her first child this summer, won seven awards. She fought back tears after winning songwriter of the year.

``Amy Grant made me start crying and now it's just a hormonal train wreck,'' said Nordeman, whose other honors included best female vocalist and song of the year for ``Holy.''

The Dove Awards recognize everything from staid gospel quartets and country to rock, rap and teen pop. The 4,500 members of the Gospel Music Association nominate and vote for the winners.

PAX TV will air the show, which was not broadcast live, on April 19.

Six-time best artist winner Steven Curtis Chapman and Cece Winans, one of Christian music's best-loved divas, hosted the 34th annual event at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

``We're here to celebrate the music that delivers the ultimate message of hope and peace,'' Winans said as the show opened.

The audience raised its hands in support of U.S. troops at the urging of Third Day _ which won group of the year for the third straight year and best rock recorded song for ``40 Days.''

``I want to say real quick, there is freedom in Iraq tonight,'' Third Day member Mac Powell said, drawing cheers and a standing ovation.

After receiving nine nominations, Toby McKeehan of the group dc Talk settled for one award. McKeehan, who performs under the pseudonym tobyMac, won for short form music video for ``Irene.''

Other winners included the Paul Colman Trio as new artist of the year and Brown Bannister as producer of the year.

Bannister joined Vince Gill in producing Grant's ``Legacy ... Hymns & Faith,'' the inspirational album winner.

Grant and Gill, who are married, also won for country recorded song for ``The River's Gonna Keep On Rolling,'' while Randy Travis's ``Rise And Shine'' was the country album winner.

Even if he hadn't won, Smith knew it would be a special night as the Gospel Music Association paid tribute to his 20-year career. He joined Point of Grace, Michael Tait, Anointed, Avalon and others in singing his signature song ``Friends.''

Smith described all the attention and awards as ``another thing that I have to lay at the foot of the cross.''

He said he was shocked to win best male vocalist for the first time.

``I'm being honest when I say this: I don't really think I'm a great, great, great singer. Who knows why I won it this year? But I really was not expecting to win it.''