I enjoyed the great honor of attending the Singing News Fan Awards recently at Dollywood. This was the first time the event was held at Dollywood as they partnered also with the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame for its annual inductions. The Hall of Fame and its museum are at Dollywood.
The Singing News Fan Awards was previously offered as part of the National Quartet Convention where it could seat up to 20,000 attendees. As the change of venues was announced some fans shared their disappointment while other looked to the possibilities.
Dollywood handled thousands of visitors that Wednesday and even though the theater could welcome only 1,700 for the awards. Every seat was full; the park was full to hear many performances of gospel music.
Dollywood literally rolled out the red carpet for all the awards winners and inductees as they hosted a media event in the morning with Dolly Parton presiding. Later that afternoon following a celebrity style reception hosted by Dolly. At this event, Singing News honored one of my longtime friends Jerry Kirksey and his wife Carolyn on his retirement from his Editor in Chief position from the magazine. Thanks Jerry for helping to make our industry.
The stars walked the red carpet as fans five and six deep lined the parade route, smiling, waving and cheering their favorites with Dolly serving as grand marshal.
Then the nearly three-hour award show hosted by Karen Peck Gooch and Ivan Parker began and came off without a hitch. I understand 32,000 people tuned in over the web to watch the event.
Performances by most of the top names in Southern Gospel singing the top ten songs of the year helped to create a flow to the presentations and the inductions.
I was greatly impressed by the entire event and was honored to be present both as an artist and in my capacity as advisor to the SGMA Board of Directors.
The Booth Brothers garnered six awards with Michael taking Tenor of the Year, Ronnie receiving Favorite Lead Singer, Jim getting Favorite Baritone and the group taking home Favorite Trio and Favorite Artist with the latter presented by Dolly Parton. They also shared an award for Album of the Year with Greater Vision and Legacy Five for “Jubilee.”
The Triumphant Quartet brought home three awards including pianist Jeff Stice as Musician of the Year, Eric Bennett as Favorite Bass Singer, and the group being voted Favorite Traditional Quartet.
The Hoppers also garnered three awards including Mixed Group of the Year and Kim Hopper as Favorite Soprano and Favorite Female Artist. Kim was not able to attend because she was with her family as they dealt with the passing of her brother singer Tony Greene. Connie Hopper was also inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
The Perrys and Ivan Parker were next in line with two awards.
The Favorite Alto went to Libbi Stuffle of the Perrys and Song of the Year for “If You Knew Him” also was awarded to the Perrys.
Ivan took home Favorite Soloist and Favorite Male Singer.
As I mentioned last week the Marvin Norcross-Maurice Templeton Award went to all the members of The Primitive Quartet.
Morgan Easter of Jeff & Sheri Easter won the Individual Horizon Award while Soul’d Out Quartet received the Horizon Favorite Young Group.
The Young Artist of the Year winner is Brooklyn Collingsworth and the Songwriter of the Year is Rodney Griffin. Next week, I will share more about the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees. They all deserve individual attention and I know you will find a brief look at them as pleasant as a walk down memory lane.
To close let me say, I have attended many award shows in my career. This one to me was the smoothest and most enjoyable I have ever been part of. My hat is off to Dollywood, Singing News and SGMA for all the hard work and the wonderful light that they shined on Southern Gospel Music. To find out more about this publication visit www.singingnews.com.