Redman, who did not attend, used his song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” to rule the Gospel Music Association’s 44th annual Christian music awards, winning songwriter of the year and song of the year.
It was TobyMac’s second artist of the year award on his seventh nomination in the category and his first since 2008. The gospel hip-hop artist won a total of four awards to bring his career total to 18, including pop-contemporary album Eye On It and short-form video for the title song. He performed that song at the top of the awards, appearing on stage at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., with a drum corps and a yellow and black candy-striped cane.
“I’ve always come from hip-hop roots albeit I’m a pop artist,” he said after the show. “I’ve always thought, man, if you’re talking about hope, if you’re talking about faith, you can’t limit it to one style of music. If you’re talking about God, it’s got to be in all styles of music. There’s all kinds of people out there that are believers who want different styles of music. Gospel hip-hop has always existed, it just has never had the platform it’s finally getting.”
A short time later the Doves honored rapper Lecrae, who won rap/hip-hop album and song of the year, and his proteges Trip Lee, KB and Andy, who performed their rap song “One Sixteen.” Lecrae gave TobyMac – real name Toby McKeehan – credit for the growing presence of rap in the Christian music world.
“TobyMac is a legend. … I told him if he ever wants to do a song with me, all he has to do is ask,” Lecrae said, before noting rap’s proliferation: “I’m excited to see the transition is bigger than me. It’s a movement.”
A hyped-up Kirk Franklin and Amy Grant hosted the awards, which will be aired Monday night at 8 p.m. EDT on UP TV. Several of the genre’s top acts performed, including Grant, Mann, Cobbs, Crabb, the Gaither Vocal Band and Needtobreathe.
Pastor Rick Warren, whose son Matthew’s suicide drew national attention earlier this year, attended and presented an award. Warren spoke with reporters afterward and sent his thanks to all who have sent prayers to him and his family.
“There’s nothing more excruciating than looking up in the airport at CNN and seeing your son’s name with the words ‘autopsy’ and ‘suicide,’“ Warren said. “That’s just excruciatingly painful and we would not have made it without the prayers of thousands of people.”