48th annual Dove Awards held in Nashville at Allen Arena

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Contemporary Christian band MercyMe took home awards for artist of the year and pop/contemporary album of the year and the band’s frontman, Bart Millard, was named songwriter of the year (artist) at this year’s Dove Awards.

The Gospel Music Association held its annual awards show Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee, with performances by Reba McEntire, CeCe Winans, Danny Gokey and Hillsong Worship.

“We’ve been a band for 23 years,” Millard remarked. “So yay for old people.”

MercyMe formed in Texas in the ’90s and broke out with their platinum hit song “I Can Only Imagine.” MercyMe released their ninth studio album this year, “Lifer” and they performed their single “Even If” during the show.

“Christian music saved my life and it means the world to us, means the world to me,” Millard said.

Grammy-winning Winans won gospel artist of the year and contemporary gospel/urban album of the year for her latest album, “Let Them Fall In Love.”

Other multiple winners included producer Bernie Herms, Gaither Vocal Band, NEEDTOBREATHE, and songwriters Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood.

McEntire, a country music star and actress, won her first Dove Award in the new category of bluegrass/country/roots album of the year for her album “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope,” her first attempt at a gospel album.

“It’s not mine. It’s God’s,” McEntire said of the award. “I am just a conduit.”

She ended the show with a performance of the song from her album “Back to God,” and “Sweet Home Chariot.”

Pat Boone was honored by SoundExchange, a performance rights organization, for being a spokesman for songwriter rights and royalties.

Ryan Stevenson’s “Eye of the Storm,” which tied as pop/contemporary recorded song of the year, became an anthem for hurricane recovery as he performed in front of images of cleanup after recent storms hit several US states and territories. Millard of MercyMe also wore a Texas Strong shirt.

Hillsong Worship performed “What A Beautiful Name,” which was named song of the year and worship song of the year, and had audience members on their feet with their hands in the air.

Zach Williams won new artist of the year and his song “Chain Breaker” tied as pop/contemporary recorded song of the year.

Performers Kari Jobe and Tasha Cobbs Leonard co-hosted the event at Lipscomb University’s arena.

WKRN spoke with Jobe prior to the show who said she was a little nervous about the hosting gig. She added that if she wasn’t in music that she’d probably be a meteorologist because she “loves weather.”

Davis Nolan also interviewed the Isaacs, the award-winning family of singers, who are nominated for two Dove Awards.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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