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MUSIC BUZZ: American Music Awards adds categories for faith tunes

LOS ANGELES (BP)–Gospel and contemporary Christian music are getting noticed.

Reflecting an increased popularity of the genre in recent years, the American Music Awards is adding a contemporary inspirational category to its list of awards for the 29th edition of the show. ABC will broadcast the show on Jan. 9 from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium.

Executive producer Dick Clark told Associated Press, “In the late ’80s we recognized the growth and impact of rap/hip-hop by adding that category. Likewise for Latin music in the ’90s. The time has now come to include contemporary inspirational artists and recognize just how strong a force they have become in the world of music.”

The academy has added categories and eliminated them before, including heavy metal, disco, dance music and best video.

Nominees in the contemporary inspirational category will be based on data supplied by the music industry trade publication Radio & Records and Soundscan Inc. information.

Winners are selected by a poll of the record-buying public. Nominees will be announced Nov. 13.

Besides contemporary inspirational, categories include pop/rock, country, soul/rhythm & blues, rap/hip-hop, Latin, adult contemporary and alternative. An award also will be presented for favorite soundtrack.


— NEWSONG — Reunion Records and recording artist NewSong (Reunion Records), have announced an alliance with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Franklin Graham’s international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. NewSong’s hit song, “The Christmas Shoes,” has been chosen as an anthem of compassionate giving in association with this year’s drive.

Operation Christmas Child public service announcements will feature Franklin Graham with NewSong founding member Eddie Carswell, co-writer of “The Christmas Shoes.”

“We have been humbled and blessed by the stories we’ve heard about how ‘The Christmas Shoes’ has had such an impact in people’s lives,” Carswell said. “Our partnership with Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse gives us an even greater opportunity to influence the world by giving gifts — and more importantly, hope, to children that might otherwise go without. To touch the world in an eternal way is what Operation Christmas Child is all about and we are honored to be able to help.”

GO FISH — Go Fish has announced a Christmas tour that will blanket parts of the Midwest the second week of December. Last year’s tour lasted only two weeks but had the group playing to more than 20,000 people, including four sold-out performances in Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall. This year the group has St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center booked, which they are expecting to sell out at 15,000-plus seats. Other cities on the weeklong tour include Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“Our goal in putting together this show is to not only entertain, but to share with our audience why Christmas is so important to us. People are so open to hearing about and discussing God right now,” said Go Fish founding member Jamie Statema. “When you combine Christmas with the events that are happening in our world, what a perfect time to share our faith. We take great care in putting together a show that will honestly share what Christ has done for us in an entertaining and honest way.”

In another tribute to their home state, Go Fish plans on having three drum sets for the finale and are currently in discussion with the University of Minnesota’s drumline to participate in the St. Paul show. The band also will have a black gospel choir joining them on several of the songs.

— REBECCA ST. JAMES — After selling out shows in cities in Florida, North Carolina and Texas, Grammy-winning ForeFront recording artist Rebecca St. James, brought her “Wait For Me” Tour home to Nashville. Selling out her originally scheduled date at The People’s Church in Franklin, a suburb of Nashville, Rebecca and her team added another date to accommodate demand, which sold out as well. In the history of The People’s Church, no other act has sold consecutive shows as successfully.

“Rebecca’s two sold-out shows confirm what my team has believed all along,” said Jeff Roberts, president of The Jeff Roberts Agency. “Youth leaders trust her ministry, her show is world-class and her audience growth is reaching critical mass.”

“It was so good to be in my hometown playing in my home church,” said St. James. “Although every crowd we have performed for on this tour has been amazing, there is something to be said about looking into the crowd and seeing familiar faces. To see friends and family singing along and worshiping to the words of your songs is a great experience.”

The “Wait For Me” tour also features Rachael Lampa, Tree 63 and Fusebox, and is titled after St. James’ #1 single from her latest album, “Transform.”

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