The Grammy-winning artist made history last year when his seventh album, Anomaly, became the first title to top Billboard’s Top 200 and Gospel Albums charts in the same week. The artist, who was not in attendance at the awards show, also won awards for rap/hip hop album of the year and rap/hip hop song of the year.
Newcomer Lauren Daigle also took home three awards, including new artist, song of the year and pop/contemporary song of the year for her anthem single, “How Can It Be,” which she also performed during the show, held at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Daigle, a Louisiana native, said she was inspired to write the album, How Can It Be, after the death of her grandfather.
“It’s amazing because when I think back on my grandfather and the songs that he inspired, it’s all about love and the legacy of love that he left behind,” Daigle said.
Australian brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, who perform as For King & Country, also were named contemporary Christian artists of the year and their album, Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. was named pop/contemporary album of the year.
Matt Maher, who took home two awards for worship song of the year and songwriter of the year (artist), said the churches have sustained Christian music artists.
“We live in a time when music is in a really weird place and we’re all able to do what we do because of the support of the church,” Maher said.
Sadie Robertson, of the “Duck Dynasty” television family, and five-time Dove Award winner Erica Campbell hosted the awards show. Campbell also took home the award for urban contemporary gospel song of the year for her song, “I Luh God.”
Rapper Kevin Burgess, who performs as KB, had one of the memorable performances of the night when he and a group of dancers faced off against other dancers dressed as police officers in riot gear. The song, “I Believe,” ended with both sides joining in dance and Burgess said as a black man in America, he wanted the performance to explore the issue of police violence.
“What does it look like to have the two come together and talk and become unified, linking together to actually bring peace?” Burgess said. “It’s a hot topic. And I want to see more believers coming in hand and hand.”