Dove Love

Steven Curtis Chapman, Brandon Heath and Natalie Grant were the big winners last night at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

Chapman snagged the top award – Dove’s entertainer of the year – for the seventh time in his career. That honor, plus winning songwriter of the year, capped a rather turbulent year for the artist. His 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue, was killed last May when her older brother accidentally ran over here with a car at the singer’s home.

Photo: AP Photo
Being congratulated by Stephen Baldwin for winning Dove’s artist of the year.

“There are a lot of reasons that are unique to this year that are probably why I’m standing here,” Chapman said. “In the last year, we’ve been given the opportunity we never would have signed up for to communicate the hope we have.”

Male vocalist and song of the year went to Brandon Heath for his hit “Give Me Your Eyes,” while Natalie Grant picked up the female vocalist award for the fourth year in a row. Grant thanked Christian radio for playing music by female artists and delivered a very positive message to girls wanting to follow in the star’s footsteps.

“If I can make it, everybody can,” Grant said. “To every young female out there watching this tonight: Keep writing your songs and keep blooming where you are planted because God always has the final word.”

Photo: AP Photo
Performing at the Dove Awards with Group 1 Crew’s Pablo Villatoro.

Other winners included the group Tenth Avenue North, which won new artist of the year, Casting Crowns picked up its fifth straight group of the year honor and the duo Mary, Mary won for best urban contemporary song.

Miss California Carrie Prejean was greeted by a standing ovation when she introduced the group MercyMe. Prejean has been in the news for an answer she gave against gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant. Although she didn’t reference the controversy during the awards program, backstage she said she had no regrets and that “you have to stay true to your beliefs.”

Photo: AP Photo
Accepting the Dove Award for new artist of the year.

Televised live from Nashville on the Gospel Music Channel, this year marked 40 years of Dove Awards. For a complete list of winners please click here.