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From GospelMusicChannel.com

Nashville, Tenn. – February 18, 2010 – Jars of Clay, Skillet, Matt Maher, and Jason Crabb led the pack with six nominations each at the 2010 Dove Award nominations press conference, an event held at Belmont University’s Curb Music Café in Nashville. Bernie Herms leads in total nominations of eight, including Producer of the Year. Producers and songwriters Jason Ingram and Wayne Haun follow with seven nominations each.

Ben Tankard, Francesca Battistelli, Brandon Heath, Jason Crabb, Jeremy Camp, Kari Jobe, Lisa Kimmey-Winans and Michael W. Smith were all on hand to announce nominations in 23 of 43 official categories.

With nearly 200 industry executives, journalists and artists in attendance, the event began with Pete Wilson, local pastor of Crosspoint Community Church and author of Plan B (Thomas Nelson) who challenged the crowd that “what matters is not what you accomplish, but who you become.” Wilson (withoutwax.tv), who has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter, also thanked the gospel music industry: “I’m forever grateful for how God has used you to shape my soul.”

Gospel Music Association (GMA) chairman of the board Ed Leonard followed by highlighting a few of the ways the gospel music industry has reached out to Haiti in its hour of need, introducing the powerful music video for “Come Together Now” (Music City Unites for Haiti) which was led by Michael W. Smith (written by Smith, David Mullen and Cindy Morgan).

Teary-eyed from viewing the powerful video, Michael W. Smith spoke briefly of his trip to Haiti and how long it would take for the people to recover.

“We may be here to announce Dove nominations today, but the true awards go to the people in Haiti and the meaning of something like this comes only through what we do in times like this,” said Smith, who visited Haiti after the earthquake. “Any recognition we give to those making an impact in this industry, goes all just to God’s glory and His fame, to be able to reach out further, to communicate His message to the world.”

He made special mention of U.S. troops in Haiti: “To watch our military not only keep the peace but love on the Haitian people was an image I’ll never forget the rest of my life…”

Other gospel music artist endeavors on behalf of Haiti were highlighted at the event, including Kirk Franklin’s recording and video of “Are You Listening” (to benefit UNICEF), TobyMac’s “Get Back Up,” for which 100% of royalties will go to relief efforts, Third Day’s “Come Together Fund” which raised over 350K for relief the day after the quake and the upcoming “Help Haiti Live” concert event (Amy Grant, NEEDTOBREATHE) planned for February 27 to benefit Compassion International’s Haiti relief efforts.

There were plenty of more light-hearted moments during the event, including Jeremy Camp asking Jaci Velasquez if she wouldn’t mind “pinch hitting” for him in reading the Spanish language nominations. All joking aside, Camp was certainly touched by the recognition he received.

“I’m honored to be nominated for male vocalist and pop album of this year,” said Camp. “Gospel music is represented by so many great, talented, and purely wonderful people. I’m blessed to be a part of it, and truly grateful to God for the opportunity and privilege to get to do what I do.”

The 41st Annual GMA Dove Awards will be seen Sunday, April 25 at 8 pm et, only on gmc. This year’s awards will be hosted by Natalie Grant and MercyMe’s Bart Millard. Visit doveawards.com or gospelmusic.org for more information.

“As a little girl I would watch the Dove Awards on TV and be in awe of the gifted artists,” said Kari Jobe. “Now to be recognized as a New Artist nominee, it is both a humbling and joyful experience! I can’t wait to come to Nashville in April for the show.”

Jason Crabb, up for four awards this year, had a similar sentiment: “To be considered among the industry’s top choices as a whole is a shock for this small-town Kentucky boy. I’m a fan of these other artists, so I’m thrilled to be among them! All I can say right now is I’m grateful…grateful for my family, for God’s giftings, for His goodness, for so many people who make this happen and for allowing me to do what I love day in and day out.”

This year again, fans will be able to cast their votes online in two major categories, Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year. Voting opens the same day voting opens for GMA members, and will be available at gmclife.com.

The awards will be held Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry House. Tickets are currently on sale through the Grand Ole Opry Call Center. Call 1-800-SEE-OPRY/1-800-733-6779, visit www.opry.com or purchase at the Opry Box Office located at 2804 Opryland Drive, or the Ryman Auditorium Box Office at 116 5th Ave. North in downtown Nashville. Ticket prices range from $25–$200.

Without further adieu, here are the major categories and the 2010 nominees in each. Click here for a full list of nominees.

Artist of the Year

Francesca Battistelli

Casting Crowns

Jason Crabb

Jars of Clay

TobyMac

Mary Mary

Skillet

New Artist of the Year

Jonny Diaz

Kari Jobe

Revive

Sidewalk Prophets

Bluetree

Crystal Aikin

Brian Courtney Wilson

Group of the Year

Casting Crowns

Gaither Vocal Band

Jars of Clay

NEEDTOBREATHE

Tenth Avenue North

Hezekiah Walker & LFC

Skillet

Female Vocalist of the Year

Francesca Battistelli

Natalie Grant

Mandisa

Dawn Michele

Laura Story

Karen Peck Gooch

Heather Headley

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jeremy Camp

Jason Crabb

Michael English

Brandon Heath

Bebo Norman

Mark Schultz

Donnie McClurkin

Smokie Norful

Song of the Year

“Born To Climb” by Jeff & Sherri Easter, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey

“By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

“Free To Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli

“God Is There” by Diamond Rio

“I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio

“Let the Waters Rise” by MIKESCHAIR

“Revelation Song” by Jennie Lee Riddle

“Somebody Like Me” by Neil Thrasher, Michael Boggs

“Two Hands” by Jars of Clay

“Why Can’t All God’s Children Get Along” by Karen Peck & New River

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