NASHVILLE — Contemporary Christian music legends and rising stars in the industry descended on Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena for the 52nd Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, the biggest annual event in Christian music.
Ahead of the ceremony, The Christian Post spoke to some of the industry’s top names, from Lauren Daigle and Lecrae to Maverick City and Elevation Worship — one of this year’s most-nominated groups.
“I’m really excited about just seeing a big crowd,” gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds, who hosted the Tuesday night awards alongside Natalie Grant, told The Christian Post. “It’s been a while. I’m just so excited about the performances.”
“It’s one big family reunion,” worship singer Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music agreed. “I’m just so happy to be here, celebrating, seeing all of my friends.”
Though the GMA did a “great job” of being creative with last year’s awards — which were entirely virtual due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic — Joel Smallbone of for King & Country, a band nominated for Artist of the Year, stressed that there’s “something spiritual and beautiful about being together.”
“We love the sentiment of ‘Stronger Together,’” he said, referencing this year’s theme.
Southern gospel artist Jason Crabb emphasized that “there is nothing like the Dove Awards,” adding: “Everybody being here — you can feel it. The embraces are a little tighter this year.”
Voted on by the GMA Professional Membership, this year’s nominees were chosen from over 4,600 submitted entries.
The event featured performances from CeCe Winans, Lauren Daigle, Maverick City Music, Elevation Worship, Hope Darst and more.
Elevation Worship and artist Brandon Lake are this year’s top nominated artists with seven nominations each. For King & Country earned six nominations. CeCe Winans, Ed Cash, Tiffany Hammer Hudson and Zach Williams each received five nominations.
“All of us are just like church people. We love serving the local church,” Chris Brown of Elevation Worship told CP. “It’s why we got into it. It’s what we’ve given our lives to. Worship is what we do. Our church has just been writing songs for years, and that turned into recording albums. And that turned into this. It’s wild.”
Darst, who was nominated for Best New Artist of the Year, gave God all the praise for her journey to success.
“It’s surreal; I mean 20 years ago, I was working behind the scenes for GMA and talent, making sure everybody got here,” she reflected. “I never imagined that I would be back here 20 years later. But God has a way of doing the unexpected in our lives. … Because it’s been such a long time coming, I’ve been able to soak it in and just really be so grateful and recognize that every room you get to be in, you get to tell the story of Jesus.”
Maverick City Music, also nominated for Best New Artist of the Year, credited their crossover success to the “honesty” in their music.
“It’s about [God’s] consistency, His goodness, His faithfulness. I think, really, that’s something we can all agree on,” Maverick City Music’s Naomi Raine told CP.
Artists spoke of the positive trends in CCM, from the collaborations seen across genres to artists’ willingness to talk about challenging issues like doubt, regret and pain.
“Artists, more than ever, are coming closer and rubbing shoulders more than ever, and they need to,” Luke Smallbone said. “Christianity is a journey. They call it a ‘faith journey’ for a reason. So I think it’s important to create space for people to show compassion to people, to show empathy. I don’t have it altogether; my theology is not perfect, but I hope that Jesus knows I’m in pursuit.”
Chris Tomlin, a Grammy Award-winning artist behind some of the most well-known worship songs today, including “How Great is Our God” and “Good Good Father,” expressed his joy at the success worship music has seen in recent years.
“Especially in worship music, what’s happened is really cool to see,” Tomlin told CP. “To see Bethel to Elevation to Maverick City, all these groups. Back in the day, it was kind of like me and [Matt] Redman and some dudes. And now, to see it just expand to these movements is really cool, and I love it. The songs are so fresh and connecting people in such a great way and reaching the heart of where people are right now.”
Brown said he’s been encouraged by the “unity and diversity” seen in CCM.
“It’s exciting. There shouldn’t be any predictability to what Christian music is,” he said.
Multiple artists had words of encouragement to their fans following a year of isolation.
“There’s something that we just want to be clear about: When we wrote the songs on our albums, we weren’t necessarily in a great place,” Madison Cain of the group CAIN told CP. “Just know that if you aren’t having the best time, maybe it starts with some proclamations that you’re a child of God, you are loved and this is a season that will pass.”
“There’s a distinct difference between being lonely and being alone,” Logan Cain added. “I think almost everybody has felt lonely in this season, but we are not alone. We’re promised that we have a helper. And I think that, whether it be online or in person, however, we can do it, I feel the world connecting again. I feel things start to come back together. And so I’m so encouraged.”
While the awards ceremony was taped Tuesday night, the show is scheduled to air Friday at 8 p.m. ET and again at 10 p.m. ET on Trinity Broadcasting Network. The show will be simulcast on “The Message” channel on SiriusXM radio.
‘The Chosen’ season 3 finale ranks among top 10 in weekend box office hits
The season 3 finale of the hit TV series “The Chosen,” consisting of episodes 7 and 8, was a hit over the weekend, coming in at No. 9 among the top 10 movies at the box office.
Fathom Events extended weekend showings resulted in the film bringing in $3.6 million.
This follows Thursday’s successful run as the top-grossing film with $1.67 million from 1,940 select theaters that day, Deadline reported, adding that it outperformed the latest installment in the “Avatar” franchise, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” for the top spot.
Dallas Jenkins, the creator of the most successful crowdfunded series of all time, said the series did not spend any money on marketing. He was surprised by the strong turnout.
“We just wanted to quietly make this available on the big screen to our fans for two days. It’s fun to see them not keep it quiet,” he said in a statement, according to Movieguide.
“We were excited to give you a chance to see the finale on the big screen, but weren’t expecting this. Look what you did,” reads a post on the series’ Instagram page. “Episodes 7 and 8 of season 3 are so big they demand to be on the big screen. And apparently, you demand it too.”
This is not the first time “The Chosen” has made a big impact at the box office. The series’ first two episodes of season 3 premiered in theaters last November to a warm reception from fans.
The international hit series is about the lives of those who closely followed Jesus Christ. It had already been streamed nearly 408 million times worldwide as of last November when it was honored with an award from the Washington, D.C.-based Museum of the Bible for the program’s cultural impact.
Produced by Angel Studios and available to watch via their streaming platform, “The Chosen” debuted in December 2019. By the end of its second season, it garnered critical acclaim and around 350 million views worldwide.
The season 3 finale highlights the pain of suffering a miscarriage and how followers of Jesus wrestle with God over it. It also features moments where Christ’s followers are challenged by not having their prayers answered.
Actress Lara Silva, who plays Simon’s wife, Eden, has a miscarriage while Simon (who later becomes known as Peter) is in the mission field with Jesus. The dramatic scene was depicted in episode 5 of the new season. Silva said she had to dig deep to portray such a painful event that happens to millions of women worldwide.
“It was extremely hard,” she told The Christian Post last week. “I had to really open my heart to, ‘Wow, this happens to so many women.’ So I dug in and I wanted to hear stories, and I wanted to listen to them. It made me reach out to friends and family that had gone through it. We just don’t know how to deal, how to help women when they’re struggling and going through that because it’s so hard, and it’s a traumatic experience when we lose a child.”
The newest season showcases the burden that Simon’s ministry with Christ has on Eden.
“I remember in season one, we were hashtag marriage goals and as the struggles come, everybody was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is real.’ It’s not just we’re strong in our faith all the time. Sometimes, one is wavering in their faith more than the other. And so, in season three, it’s Eden who is suffering in silence and asking, ‘I’ve been faithful from day one, I’ve been a believer since day one and why is this happening to me?” Silva said.
The disciple Little James, played by actor Jordan Walker Ross, is portrayed as a disabled follower who has yet to receive healing.
Bodie, ‘Voice’ worship leader who left judges in tears, says big things are coming, asks for prayer
Bodie Kuljian caught the world’s attention with his musical talents as a contestant on the singing competition “The Voice,” and he’s now asking for prayers as he gears up to release new music and step into some big opportunities.
While the singer ultimately came in second place to Bryce Leatherwood in season 22 of NBC’s singing competition, his finale performance went viral last month. The 29-year-old performer, simply known as Bodie, belted out a rendition of Brandon Lake’s worship song “Gratitude” that moved the show’s judges to tears and garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
In a New Year celebratory post, the California native declared that 2023 would be the year he reaps the harvest of all he’s sown.
“The beginning of the harvest. The beginning of what Ro and I have believed for, for the last decade,” He wrote on Instagram.
Bodie has been married to his wife, Royale, since 2015, and the couple have three young children together.
His post went on to reveal that 2022 brought him “lots of inner healing and restoration,” and it was “lots of hard work and diligence (to put it lightly).”
“2023 will be proof of all the prayer, all the consistency and all the passion of my 2022,” he declared.
On Dec. 29, Bodie teased his supporters that he would be releasing a new song.
The passionate musician shared a small snippet of the single on Instagram, where he captioned the post, “so stoked for u guys to hear what I’ve been working on. had to give u a little teaser.
“Wake me up if I’m dreaming/ there’s no hole in my heart and you’re the reason,” he sang in the clip.
The song’s hook is “You make loving look easy.”
This week, the young crooner also shared online that following his time on “The Voice,” several opportunities were opening up to him.
“Have some of the biggest meetings I could have ever dreamed of coming up next week, life is crazy,” he wrote.
Bodie then asked his supporters to “pray” for him as he is “finally doin’ it.”
The singer and his wife own their own media company named Together Creative. They are both photographers and videographers.
In an interview with Parade, Bodie revealed they “shoot for brands” and corporations.
During the Parade interview Bodie revealed that he teaches a songwriting course at his alma mater, Vanguard University, where he also serves as a “worship coach.”
“I hate that term, but I help with one of the music ensembles on campus. It’s a church music group,” he said.
According to the website, He’s the “music coach” for the “The Vanguard Worship Collective.”
The singer Bodie currently serves as one of the worship leaders at Oceans Church in Irvine, California, where he helps lead worship between the church’s two campuses.
His LinkedIn page adds that he previously worked at Lincoln Heights Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona, from 2015-2019. During that time, he led and directed all music services and oversaw a/v production, the church’s website, video and print and productions.
He also interned with Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego for two years doing video and design work.
‘Don’t Say My Name’ star says it’s time to ‘end’ sex trafficking as Christian film hits Amazon Prime
The Christian film “Don’t Say My Name” has been added to Amazon Prime during human trafficking awareness month, and the film’s lead actress is urging viewers to bring an end to the horrors of the global sex trade.
Based on actual events, the film depicts the harrowing experience of a survivor who escapes her captor and relies on God to sustain her.
Originally shown in select theaters across the U.S. and worldwide, “Don’t Say My Name” is now available on Prime, released by 24 Flix and Selan films, that aims to mobilize viewers into action.
“Don’t Say My Name” features “Overcomer” actor Cameron Arnett, along with actors Cory Kays, Jenny Porrata and newcomer Brooklyn Wittmer in her first starring role.
“January is human trafficking awareness month and I am honored to be a part of the fight against trafficking by portraying a beautiful, brave, young girl who was sold by her mother for drugs,” Wittmer said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
“This horrific situation sadly happens in the U.S. and all over the world too much. I heard stories of survivors (beautiful, brave souls) who fight every day to make their today better than yesterday,” she continued. They fight for a new life. We can help be that voice and lift them up!”
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the definition of human trafficking is any situation in which someone experiences “force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control.”
The International Labour Organization reported that in 2014 that human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar a year industry worldwide, and as many as 1.2 million children are trafficked each year globally. Statistics have shown that thousands of children in the U.S. have also been lured into the commercial sex trade.
Wittmer said people must be vigilant.
“We can know the signs and catch it before it happens to our friends, family or neighbors. It’s up to us! It’s time to end human trafficking,” she declared. “Your voice matters!”
Her co-star Cameron Arnett praised God for the opportunity to bring the film to the mainstream streaming service.
“God continues to use the collective hands of His people, to help save all people and we are honored and grateful,” Arnett told CP.
“Don’t Say My Name” is directed by Federico Segarra, while the script was written by Patricia Landolfi de Segarra. Homeland Security agents, survivors and various aid organizations all participated in bringing the project to life.
Producer Marty Jean-Louis previous told CP that “most movies on trafficking end after the rescue. But in this movie, we follow the victims’ journey throughout the entire process,” he added.
During a panel discussion with the cast and crew and attended by CP, Jean-Louis revealed that faith is “everything” when it comes to helping survivors of human sex trafficking.
“You cannot have healing without faith,” Jean-Louis said.
An unnamed Department of Homeland Security agent who works in child exploitation investigations also shared how faith plays a role in the cases, including human trafficking.
“My job is to look at horrible acts done to children, and [faith] is everything,” he told CP at the time. “I go in there with a mission. When I’m doing my job, I’m a fact-finder; I’m collecting evidence, I’m collecting the things that the prosecutors need. But at the end of the day, I am human. Faith is my mission, which has brought me here. It’s not a fun job, but it’s a calling.”
The agent, who is played by Arnett and described himself as a “man of faith” and “a Christian,” said it was surreal to get to see someone on screen portray his world.
“Seeing Cameron come in and sit at my desk, I told him about the things at my desk and how when I crossed a certain threshold, I start investigating, I start looking, I start the horrible stuff,” the agent said. “I felt from him the human element, and he brought it to the screen, which is cool.”
“Don’t Say My Name” has received rave reviews from viewers.
The film’s crowdfunding page says two children are sex trafficked every 60 seconds, while 10 will be stolen and enslaved every five minutes on average.
“Don’t Say My Name” will be used by human trafficking organizations, schools and private and corporate entities to help spread awareness. Visit Don’t Say My Name for more information.
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