Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Paducah's favorite son Steven Curtis Chapman and CeCe Winans will host the 34th Annual Dove Awards, scheduled for Thursday, April 10 in Nashville. Local PAX TV affiliate WBNA will once again be a broadcast partner for the awards show, this year airing the show on the Saturday evening prime time slot - April 19 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET/PT.

"The GMA wanted this year's Dove Awards to focus on the distinctiveness of Christian music and who better to help us than CeCe and Steven," says John W. Styll, president of the GMA. "These two artists represent the best in Christian music, for both their commercial success and their artistic integrity and will make terrific hosts for an evening of entertainment and inspiration."

Here are some of the nominees (and my personal choices):

Song Of The Year (with songwriter and publisher): "Above All"; Lenny LeBlanc, Paul Baloche; Integrity's Hosanna!Music, Len Songs Publishing, "Back In His Arms Again"; Mark Schultz; Mark Schultz Music, "Breathe"; Marie Barnett; Mercy/Vineyard Publishing, "Come Unto Me"; Nicole C. Mullen; Wordspring Music/Lil'Jas Music, "Great Light Of The World"; Bebo Norman; NewSpring Pub. Inc, Appstreet Music, "Here I Am To Worship"; Tim Hughes; Kingsway's Thankyou Music, "Holy"; Nichole Nordeman, Mark Hammond; Ariose Music, Mark Hammond Music, "Ocean Floor"; Mark Stuart, Bob Herdman, Tyler Burkum, Will McGinnis, Ben Cissell; Up In The Mix Music (my top pick), "Spoken For"; Bart Millard, Nathan Cochran, Mike Scheuchzer, Robby Shaffer, Jim Bryson, Peter Kipley; Simpleville, Songs from the Indigo Room, "Yes, I Believe"; Joel Lindsey, Tony Wood; Paragon Music/Vacation Boy Music/New Spring Publishing and "Youth Of The Nation"; P.O.D. (Traa, Sonny, Marcos, Wuv) Paul Sandoval, Marco Curiel, Mark Traa, Noah Bernardo; Souljah Music/Famous Music Publishing.

Male Vocalist of the year nominees: Bebo Norman , Mac Powell, Mark Schultz, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman (my top pick).

Female Vocalist of the Year nominees: Joy Williams, Natalie Grant (my top pick), Nichole Nordeman, Nicole C. Mullen and Rebecca St. James.

Group of the Year nominees: Audio Adrenaline, MercyMe, Selah, Sixpence None The Richer and Third Day(my top pick).

Artist of the Year nominees: Mercy Me, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman (my top pick), Third Day and Toby Mac.

New Artist Of The Year nominees: Big Daddy Weave, Daily Planet, Jeff Deyo, Paul Colman Trio (my top pick), Souljahz and The Rock `n' Roll Worship Circus.

For more info, visit doveawards.com. I'll be attending the event, so look for a review in next month's LMN.

Natalie Grant will bring her amazing vocal talent to Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville on May 2. Having just released her new CD, Deeper Life, she has the fastest-selling album of her career, as well as her biggest hit so far (at press time, it's #3 on Radio and Records Christian Adult Contemporary Top 20) with "I Will Be."

It's been a busy time of life lately for Grant, who is also a 2003 Dove Awards Female Vocalist Of The Year Nominee (listed above). She's getting recognition for her amazing voice and, as her official bio says: "It's clear the woman has never taken a bad photograph." Looks like the world is starting to take notice.

Kicking-off the day of release for Deeper Life, Natalie performed for more than 1200 people at Houston radio station KSBJ's "Brown Bag Concert With Natalie Grant" at a local mall on February 11.

"No Sign Of It," the first mainstream single from Natalie, has debuted in the Top 30 on the Adult Contemporary charts in both R&R and Billboard. "No Sign Of It" debuted at #29 on the AC Top 30 in the March 14 issue of R&R and was one of the Most Added along with selections from Whitney Houston, Phil Collins and Brian McKnight, among others. In addition, "No Sign Of It" debuted at #30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in the publication's March 22 issue.

"I am excited that 'No Sign Of It' is doing so incredibly, so quickly," said Grant. "It's always great and humbling when people respond to your music, but I am most looking forward to the increased opportunity to share the message behind the music, to offer hope in such uncertain times."

"Natalie's chart debut after only three weeks at R&R Mainstream AC is not only a testimony to a great song but to the amazing talents of Linde Thurman and our pop promotion staff at Curb for telling the story and getting the song heard," said John Butler, senior director artist development, Curb Records. "We feel that this is only the beginning for Natalie's voice, heart and ministry to reach beyond our industry and into the hearts of millions."

"No Sign Of It" is featured in the Miramax film, "View From The Top," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and co-starring Mike Myers and Christina Applegate. The film opened March 21. The song is included in the "View From The Top" soundtrack. The soundtrack also includes contributions from Christian groups Sixpence None the Richer and Plumb along with JoDee Messina and others. The song is also on Deeper Life.

Born in Seattle, Natalie is the one of five siblings. She grew up singing in church and eventually helped out in the music department. The group Truth performed at her church and on a whim, she auditioned to sing with them full-time. To her surprise, she got the gig and spent two years in the mid-90's touring the world. After deciding to leave the group, she moved to Nashville, with the dream of becoming a solo artist. She signed with the now-defunct Benson Records and released her self-titled solo debut in 1999.

Local Christian radio in Louisville took notice and gave heavy airplay to both singles "Heavenly" and the powerful "I Am Not Alone" (written by Senator Orrin Hatch), but unfortunately, most of the rest of the radio did not. I still can't believe that the song barely made a dent in the charts; it sounds like a #1 song to me. It just goes to show how much difference it can make being on the right label, which she wasn't.

Natalie kept busy, touring around the country, opening for Sierra. After recording "Alone," she was invited to perform at the 2000 Republican National Convention. She also contributed to Max Lucado's He Chose the Nails project.

Benson eventually folded and Natalie was picked up by Pamplin Records. She recorded and released her sophomore project Stronger and had her first top ten hits with "Keep On Shining," "What Other Man" and "Whenever You Need Somebody." Unfortunately, Pamplin followed Benson's lead and folded as well.

But the best was yet to come (thankfully), as she was picked up Curb Records in 2001. Curb, the home of Tim McGraw and LeAnn Rimes among others, won't be folding any time soon.

If you go: Natalie Grant and local artist Jason Kennedy will appear at Evangel World Prayer Center, 5400 Minors Lane in Louisville on Friday, May 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are only $8 and are available at area Christian bookstores.

Look for a major concert announcement in the next month's LMN!