[SLIDESHOW=38863,38864]NASHVILLE (BP) — Hillsong UNITED, a worship band at Australia’s Hillsong Church, was the big winner at the Gospel Music Association’s 45th annual Dove Awards Oct. 7.
The band was named Artist of the Year and their song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” received awards for Song of the Year, Contemporary Christian Performance of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year and Worship Song of the Year. The song has been at or near the top of the Christian charts for more than a year.
Switchfoot received awards for Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year and Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year, and Skillet took home Doves for Rock Song of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. Worship artist Chris Tomlin was named Songwriter of the Year and popular independent artist Ellie Holcomb was named New Artist of the Year.
For the second year in a row, the awards were held at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville. The show, featuring performances by Mercy Me, Natalie Grant, For King & Country, Karen Peck & New River, Mandisa and many others, was recorded and will be broadcast worldwide Sunday, Oct. 12, on TBN.
Hosted by Mercy Me front man Bart Millard and Billboard chart topper Lecrae, the show opened with a bang as Newsboys lead singer Michael Tait dropped from the ceiling in the center of the arena singing the band’s hit “God’s Not Dead.” The movie of the same name, in which the song is featured, received the award for Inspirational Film of the Year.
In a surprise presentation, Mercy Me was recognized for the certified double platinum status of their song “I Can Only Imagine.” It is the first gospel song ever to reach 2 million digital downloads.
Hillsong UNITED band member Jonathan Douglass (known as JD) made several trips to the microphone to accept each of the band’s awards.
“We started writing songs for our high school friends in our suburbs,” Douglass said, according to AP, “songs that were our expressions to glorify Jesus.”
Hillsong Church also received the GMA’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award for its 20-year contribution to church music and the gospel music industry. The Sydney megachurch was founded in 1983 and has grown to include campuses across Australia and on several continents. Recordings produced by the church’s various praise bands have sold millions of copies, and many of the church’s original songs have become staples in churches around the world such as “Shout to the Lord,” “The Power of Your Love,” “Mighty to Save” and “Oceans,” to name just a few.
Check local listings for the show’s broadcast time in your area. For a complete list of winners, go to doveawards.com.