Christian Music Awards
Christian Music Awards – Accolades for Christian Musicians
Christian music is a rapidly growing genre that encompasses multiple, hugely popular sub-genres such as gospel, contemporary, Christian and Inspirational. The overarching genre spreads widely and contains such talent that, throughout its numerous evolutions, Christian music awards have come about to celebrate music publishers, producers, songwriters, composers and of course, the artists themselves.
These awards, whether solely Christian music focussed or larger industry awards, feature categories for Christian music awards, which acknowledge and celebrate essential music, powerful performance and artistry within the genre.
Billboard Music Awards
The Billboard Music Awards are honours bestowed annually by Billboard, a publication covering the music business which is predominantly known for its music popularity charts.
Unlike other awards, such as the Grammy Awards, which determine nominations as a result of votes received by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Billboard Music Awards finalists are based on album and digital songs sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring and social engagement.
The Billboard Awards feature the following categories in their Christian Music Awards: Top Christian Artist, Top Gospel Artist, Top Christian Album, Top Gospel Album and Top Gospel Song of the Year. These awards aren’t the only ones that can be won by Christian performers, as they are also eligible for awards in cross genres such as country and pop.
American Music Awards
The AMAs were created by Dick Clark in 1973 to compete with the Grammy Awards after they were relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. This move led to CBS picking up the Grammy telecasts after its first two (1971 and 1972) were broadcast on ABC.
From 1973 to 2005, both the winners and the nominees were selected by members of the music industry based on commercial performance such as sales and airplay. Since 2006, winners have been determined by a poll of the public and fans, who can vote through the AMAs website, while nominations have remained based on sales and airplay, which now includes activity on social networks and video viewing.
Christian music awards are featured under the category of Inspirational or Gospel, both of which are recent additions to the ceremony’s line-up after a large overhaul of the ceremony’s structure in 2002.
The Grammy Award is an award presented by the Recording Academy to recognize “Outstanding Achievement in the Music Industry” of the United States. First established in 1958 and originally called The Gramophone Awards, The Grammys are the first of the big three networks’ annual major music awards.
The Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album is an honour presented to recording artists for albums of significance in the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) genre.
Honours in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to “honour artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position”.
The Best Contemporary Christian Music Album award was one of the new categories created after a major revamp of the Grammy Awards categories for 2012. This award combines recordings that were previously submitted for the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album, Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album and Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album.
ASCAP Christian Song of the Year Award
The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is an American not-for-profit performance-rights organization that protects its members’ musical copyrights. ASCAP achieve this by monitoring public performances of artists’ music, whether via a broadcast or live performance and compensating them accordingly.
ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, and then distributes them back to its members as royalties. In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.
Honouring the most performed Christian music of the past year, the ASCAP awards acknowledge its top members in a series of annual awards shows. Awards are presented through an “online voting” system that makes up 50% of the judging criteria, with the other 50% coming from music industry critics. ASCAP also annually presents the special accolades Vanguard Award, Songwriter of the Year and Publisher of the Year.
Famous winners of these awards include Cory Asbury, who recently won ASCAP Christian Songwriter-Artist of the Year, and Matthew West who has been named ASCAP Christian Songwriter of the Year on four occasions throughout his career.
GMA Dove Awards
A Dove Award is an accolade awarded by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievements in the Christian music industry. The awards have been presented annually since 1969, and represent a variety of musical styles, including rock, pop, hip hop, country and urban.
The Dove Awards were originally conceptualized by Gospel singer and songwriter Bill Gaither at a Gospel Music Association board meeting in 1968. The idea of the award being represented by a dove is credited to Gaither, and the design of the award is attributed to gospel singer Les Beasley and designer Bob McConnell.
Famous winners of this award include Kirk Franklin and Martin Cash, both of whom are widely known in Christian music circles for their outstanding contributions to Christian and Gospel music and the development of the genre as a whole.
The Covenant Awards are awarded to the Canadian Gospel Music industry by GMA Canada, the Gospel Music Association of Canada. The association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the growth and ministry of Christian music in Canada.
GMA Canada aims to celebrate excellence in the Canadian Christian Music Industry and to encourage Christian recording artists and proponents in three key areas:
“We exist to celebrate Canadian Christian artists in a multitude of genres, who are invested in creating music that is rooted in the Gospel, with the goal of reaching and influencing culture.”
“We exist to encourage everyone within our community to be actively connected to each other, as well as to their local churches.”
“We exist to inspire a community that celebrates its ‘Canadian-ness’ and culture with pride and intention.”
A Stellar Award is an award presented by SAGMA (Stella Awards Gospel Music Academy), to recognize achievements in the gospel music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent gospel artists along with the presentation of awards that hold a more popular interest.
The Stellars are the first of the big two major gospel music awards held annually, the other being the GMA’s Dove Awards. The first Stellar Awards ceremony was held in 1984, to honour and respect the musical accomplishments of gospel performers from the previous 12 months.
Juno Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year
The Juno Awards, more popularly known as the JUNOS, are awards presented annually to Canadian musical artists and bands to acknowledge their artistic and technical achievements in all aspects of music. New members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame are also inducted as part of the awards ceremonies. The Juno Awards are often referred to as the Canadian equivalent of the Brit Awards in Great Britain, or the Grammy Awards of the United States.
The Juno Award for “Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year” has been awarded since 1998, as recognition of the best Christian album in Canada. The GMA Canada hands out a full array of awards for Canadian Contemporary Christian/Gospel music, covering a wide range of genres, and is the Juno award’s direct contemporary in Christian music.
K-Love Fan Awards
The K-Love Fan Awards is an annual American Christian music fan-voted awards ceremony that is produced by K-Love. On February 13, 2013, K-Love held a press conference at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, where they announced the inaugural K-Love Fan Awards. This became the first fan-voted awards show for Christian music, with artists such as TobyMac, Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battistelli in attendance.
In the lead-up to the 2016 K-Love Fan Awards, K-Love opened an official nominee selection to the fans for the first time by way of online voting. In February 2016, The K-Love Fan Awards were nominated by the Midsouth Emmy Awards in the Special Event Coverage, Lighting and Set Design at the 30th Midsouth Emmy Awards and took home the award in this category.