Wayne Haun leads Dove Awards with 7 nominations

February 18, 2010 6:50:12 PM PST
Jars of Clay, Skillet, Jason Crabb and Matt Maher are up for six Dove Awards, while producer Wayne Haun leads all nominees with seven.

Nominations in 23 of 43 categories for the gospel and Christian music awards were announced Thursday in Nashville by the Gospel Music Association. The 41st annual Dove Awards will be held April 21 at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Jars of Clay, Skillet and Crabb are artist of the year nominees, along with Casting Crowns, Francesca Battistelli, Mary Mary and TobyMac, the only previous winner nominated.

"Well, I don't know how that happened," Crabb said. "I'm really humbled by the whole experience. This is my first year of coming out as a solo artist."

Casting Crowns, a five-time winner of group of the year, again leads that field along with Jars of Clay, Skillet, Gaither Vocal Band, Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, NEEDTOBREATHE and Tenth Avenue North, last year's new artist award winner.

Natalie Grant returns in the female vocalist category, which she has won four times in a row, and 2009 male vocalist winner Brandon Heath is nominated for that award again.

Haun, an 11-time winner, is looking for his first major award. He's up for producer of the year, song of the year, Southern gospel recorded song and bluegrass recorded song, and has two nominations for Southern gospel album of the year for his work with The Perrys and Janet Paschal.

Jars of Clay has won 13 Dove Awards previously, but hasn't broken through since 2007. And Crabb, a four-time winner as part of The Crabb Family, is also up for male vocalist, country album and country song.

Battistelli said, "It's crazy - Toby and Jason Crabb, and all these great artists who I've looked up to and known their music for years ... I'm still kind of like, wait, are you sure they didn't make a mistake? But it's exciting."

Maher, a worship leader whose music is grabbing attention, was this year's breakthrough nominee.

His second album, "Alive Again," is up for worship album and he received two nominations for worship song of the year.

Heath said it was an adjustment, being nominated as a vocalist instead of a songwriter.

"I've really had time to think about what does it mean to be a male vocalist," he said. "It's not necessarily about singing. It's about representing something, and I think being a voice for the voiceless. I've always thought of myself as a songwriter, so being nominated as a vocalist is kind of humorous but also I take it in stride and with great honor. So, so be it."