The 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards are in the books. Here’s the list of official winners, if you can’t wait for the Sunday broadcast or you don’t get GMC. Instead of spoiling Sunday’s show completely, I offer the following account of the night that was through my limited lens. Call it a teaser, not a spoiler.
The GMA took a risk moving the Doves outside of Nashville, and it’s clear that Atlanta is very proud to be hosting the ceremony this year. The pre-show included a proclamation read by the Atlanta City Council chair…
…and the main show included footage of the new artists performing at various Atlanta landmarks and welcomes from Atlanta-based GMC (it’s just letters now – they’re no longer the Gospel Music Channel) and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
But no one came to see the governor. They came for music, and Chris Tomlin ushered in the sound with “Our God”. This was the version from the new Passion: Here for You album, and Tomlin brought the crowd to their feet, declaring, “Rise up, church!”
Host Sherri Shepherd continued the theme and brought the gospel into the house. She seemed particularly thrilled to be able to declare her love for Christ in a very public and vocal manner.
She was remarkably comfortable, energetic, and engaging. Shepherd was the first non-musician to host, but seems to have been an excellent choice.
Mary Mary followed with “Never Wave My Flag”, adriving anthem performed through the fog in front of a cavernous backdrop. The flag in question is a flag of surrender to fear. I should make a mix tape and add that song to “No Surrender” by Springsteen and that awesome “Never Surrender” song by Corey Hart. But I digress.
The Stage was built out in three sweeping arcs over the theater’s orchestra pit, leaving two small pits loaded full of drums and guitars.
This was clearly not a live show, with long pauses for set changes and repeated intros to fix sound or lighting issues. The energy gradually waned in the audience over the four-plus hour event, and the pauses did not help. It would be fantastic if GMC could manage to air it live in the future.
During the lulls, comedienne Chonda Pierce entertained the crowd. The feed was piped into the press room, and she often had the whole room in stitches, even via closed circuit. I do wonder if any of that material will make it on the broadcast. One example: “Don’t you wish Jesus would come right now, just so you could see who would really be taken?”
You know how when CBS hosts the Grammys and they trot out presenters because they’re “the stars of the hit new CBS comedy series…”? Well, GMC does that too, apparently. But their “stars who have no serious musical affiliation and are mainly there to plug new shows” are actually really cool. To wit:
Yes, that’s right, Tootie!! Bonus points if you recognized Kim Fields right away. Is it too juvenile to point out that she was not wearing roller skates in the press room? I bet she’s sick of those references. Kim actually delivered a wonderful quote to the musicians in the audience: “Your gift is medicine, and your gift is uplifting, and God knows the world needs that right now.”
Next non-musical actor:
That’s right, Hercules!! Tootie and Hercules in the same night! That’s a party! Kevin Sorbo is a handsome dude with a speaking voice that says, “Hollywood, baby”.
Part Two is here, and I promise it does not include the words “Tootie” or “Hercules”.