Spring is almost here and I can't wait to say goodbye to winter. I trust you survived the great storm of '94 and the meltdown that followed. As we look toward spring there are several things to look forward to, including the Grammy Awards and the Dove Awards.
The 36th Annual Grammy Awards will be held March 1 at 8 p.m. There are not any contemporary Christian artists in the running for major Grammys but there will be awards handed out for Best Rock Gospel Album, Best Pop/Contemporary Album, Best Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, or Bluegrass Gospel Album, Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album, Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album and Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus.
In the Best Rock Gospel Category there are several familiar names. DC Talk's Free at Last was nominated along with Heat It Up from DeGarmo & Key, D.O.C.'s Pulling No Punches, Crimson and Blue from Phil Keaggy, and Geoff Moore & the Distance's Evolution. Albums from Sandi Patti, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael English, Margaret Becker and Wayne Watson have been nominated for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
Meanwhile, plans are in the works for the Silver Anniversary Dove Awards to be held in Nashville on April 28. Target Stores continue their involvement with contemporary Christian music by being the lead national sponsor for the program. Target will also have a major in-store promotion. You'll be able to pick up a sampler cassette with various gospel and contemporary Christian artists.
Nominees for Artist of the Year include Chapman, D C Talk, 4HIM, Michael English and Michael W. Smith. D C Talk and 4HIM are also in the race for Group of the Year along with Petra, Newsong and Out of the Grey. Michael English has been nominated with Louisville's Larnelle Harris, Wayne Watson, Bryan Duncan and Steven Curtis Chapman for Male Vocalist of the Year.
Nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year are Sparrow labelmates Susan Ashton and Margaret Becker. Also in contention are Babbie Mason, Cindy Morgan and Twila Paris. Twila and Margaret Becker have also been nominated for Songwriter of the Year along with Don Koch, Wayne Watson and, as mentioned earlier, Steven Curtis Chapman.
Finally, the nominees for New Artist of the Year are Keith Brown, Ashley Cleveland, Susie Luchsinger, Point of Grace, Pam Thum and Bob Carlisle. Bob is not really a new face; he's been part of the band Allies for several years, but it's his first solo project, which makes him eligible.
Speaking of awards, congrats go to Phil Keaggy for recently placing third in Guitar Player magazine for Best Acoustic Finger-style Guitarist and Best Acoustic Pick Style Guitarist. Others who were above him include Eric Clapton, Michael Hedges, Neil Young and Adrian Legg.
The Ultimate Summer Festival happens in June. Some of the artists include Michael W. Smith, White Heart, 4HIM, Carman, Susan Ashton, Rich Mullins and Al Denson. Joy Jam '94 will be held in June at Cardinal Stadium. Listen to 88.5 FM WJIE for up-to-date information, including when tickets go on sale.
Several artists have signed new contracts. The rumor has been that Russ Taff would sign with Liberty Records for a country album. Well it appears the country part will be true; Russ has signed an agreement with Warner Bros. Nashville. The project will be country rock with gospel overtones. The album will be distributed to the Christian market through Warner Alliance. The release date will be later this year. In the meantime, you can enjoy some of Russ Taff's past hits on We Will Stand, Yesterday and Today.
Also signing with a new label are Maia Amada with Intersound and Phil Keaggy's wife, Cheri Keaggy, will record an album on the Sparrow label. Charlie Peacock will produce the album scheduled for release in June.
Next month we'll see who won Grammys. Until then, be looking for the first flowers of spring ... you know, the season of the year we've been waiting for all winter!!! Instead of the normal music picks, I've included the songs receiving Dove nominations for Song of the Year.
Dove Nominations for
Song of the Year
Give It Away
Michael W. Smith, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Amy Grant
Go There With You
Steven Curtis Chapman
Hand On My Shoulder
Greg Nelson, Bob Farrell
Hold Me Jesus Rich Mullins
Holding Out Hope to You
Joe Beck, Brian White, David Wills
If You Could See Me Now Kim Noblitt
In Christ Alone Shawn Craig, Don Koch
The Basics of Life
Mark Harris, Don Koch
The Robe Wes King, Phil Naish
We Believe In God
Amy Grant, Wes King