Dove Awards (1969-Present)
The Dove Awards are annual music awards presented by the Gospel Music Association (GMA). The awards were presented for the first time in 1969.
In 1971, the Blackwood Brothers were at the center of a scandal that led to the Dove Awards being nullified for that year. An extraordinary number of Gospel Music Association memberships were sold by the Blackwood Brothers the previous year which skewed the final results of the Dove Awards in their favor (and in favor of groups they recommended to their fans). James Blackwood, who was on the GMA's board of directors at the time, issued an apology to the industry on behalf of the Blackwood Brothers.
For the first few years, Dove Awards were presented to traditional artists. In 1975 a category for "Album By A Secular Artist" was presented and won by Charley Pride for his album Sunday Morning With Charley Pride." That category went away in 1976, but a new category was created for Inspirational Album and won by the Bill Gaither Trio for Jesus We Just Want To Thank You.''
No awards were presented in 1979 as the show shifted from the fall to the spring of 1980. The "Album By A Secular Artist" category returned in 1980 and was won by Bob Dylan for Slow Train Coming. Categories for "Contemporary Gospel Album" and "Inspirational Black Gospel Album" were added in 1981 and won by Larnelle Harris for Give Me More Love In My Heart and Shirley Caeser for Rejoice respectively.
The Dove Awards continued to expand as more styles emerged in the years that followed. By the turn of the century, the number of categories had ballooned to 44, but in later years the count was slightly reduced. Categories span all genres of Christian music including Southern Gospel categories for Artist, Album, and Song Of The Year. Other genre categories where artists, songwriters, and producers familiar to Southern Gospel fans are often nominated include Inspirational, Bluegrass/Country/Roots, and Choral.
In 1998, the Gospel Music Association published a definition of Gospel Music to help the Dove Awards committee determine whether songs and albums were eligible to win a Dove Award. The definition stated that to be considered, song lyrics must be:
1. Substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible
2. An expression of worship of God or praise for His works; and /or
3. Testimony of relationship with God through Christ; and/or
4. Obviously prompted and informed by a Christian world view.
After more than a dozen potential nominees were disqualified in 1999 and complaints ensued, the definition was set aside. In later years, the GMA manual for Dove Awards eligibility added the following statement:
"For purposes of GMA Dove Award eligibility, the content of all entries will be: based upon the historically orthodox Christian faith contained in or derived from the Holy Bible; or apparently prompted and informed by a Christian world-view."