Cape Town recording artist Neville D won his first GMA Dove Award this week for the hit song “How Awesome Is Our God” which he co-wrote with his friend and music icon Israel Houghton.
Asked how he reacted to winning the Traditional Gospel Song of the Year in the Christian music industry’s most prestigious annual awards event he said: “I had no words! Literally!” He heard the good news from co-winner Houghton on the evening of the 46th Dove Awards at Allen Arena, Nashville, USA on Tuesday (October 12, 2015).
Houghton represented them both at the awards and “He was really glad that I was winning my first!” said Neville D. Describing his bond with the international Christian music legend, he said: “I met Israel in Zimbabwe 10 years ago and we knew from the get-go that we liked each other more than just music.”
“We are buddies. We always felt like the music was second focus.”
Neville D has had the privilege of writing and recording with many great artists, locally and abroad, and sees his award as a feather in the cap for SA Christian music and an open door for its musicians. “There are so many great songwriters in this country. Someone needs to tell them: ‘It’s okay! You can do this! You can win a Dove Award!’ I feel like winning this award does that.”
Tour and double CD release
But despite the excitement and celebrations of the Dove Award, Neville and team will continue to put all of their focus on his upcoming tour and double CD release, taking place at the end of this month, which will include the highly anticipated ‘Beauty of Difference: Season 2’ album. “I felt that after the first one there was more to be unpacked,” he shared, comparing ‘Beauty of Difference: Season 1’ with the newer release. “It’s a concept to carry through to our lives, our country, our nation and the world!” The singer releases his first single, “No Body”, from the album tomorrow (Friday, October 16).
Asked how the Dove Award will affect his writing for future albums he said: “An award of this calibre, I mean you don’t get bigger than the Dove Awards when it comes to Christian music; so this is sort of a stamp of approval!” He paid tribute to local muso friends who believed in him and encouraged him to keep moving forward, sharing that it’s all still so surreal to him. “I wasn’t even expecting anything! I didn’t think I’d win an international award. Maybe a SAMA, but not a Dove Award!”
Christian Art Media rep, Cher Murphy, hailed the local singer as ‘the real deal’ with a passion for God and family, saying: “Neville D is one of the most hard working artists I’ve had the privilege of working with. Some of the greatest Gospel artists of our time have taken note of Neville D and his song writing talent, and what more prestigious way to reward this talent than with a Dove Award shared with Israel Houghton!”
This year’s Dove Awards set a new precedent, with Christian rapper, Lecrae becoming the first rapper to win the much sought-after Artist of the Year award. The Grammy Award-winning artist, who was not present to receive the award due to travel commitments, shared his excitement with The Christian Post on Wednesday: “It’s extremely humbling! I make music to impact and inspire. I’m grateful to have a team around me that believes in the vision and contributes their talent to bring it all to fruition.”
Lecrae also scored Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year and Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year for his Billboard No.1 album, Anomaly.
Soul-pop artist and Dove newbie, Lauren Daigle, clinched the New Artist of the Year award as well as two awards for her hit “How Can It Be” which included the Song of The Year award. Daigle shared “We as Christians have a legacy to leave, and it’s all about a love of Christ to permeate the music and reach the hearts of all of the people out there, that don’t know him and do know him.”
Other big winners were Grammy-winning group, For King&Country, who took home both the Contemporary Christian Artist and Album of the Year awards. Nashville singer, Matt Maher, also won big with three accolades including the Praise and Worship Song of the Year for “Because He lives (Amen)” and the respected Songwriter of the Year Award. “We live in a time when music’s in a really weird place,” The impassioned writer shared from the stage, “And we’re all able to do what we do because of the support of the church. So I just want to thank Jesus, for the church.”
Gospel favourite, Tasha Cobbs, walked away with the Gospel Artist of the Year Award. “My prayer is that God keeps me at his feet. He keeps me humble at his feet,” said Cobbs, who paid tribute to her late father during her acceptance speech and thanked everyone “who took a chance on a small girl from Jesup, Georgia, who had something to say about Jesus.”
Me In Motion’s lead vocalist, Seth Mosely, led the brigade with four wins, including the Producer of the Year award.
Honouring outstanding achievement in the Christian music industry, The 2015 Dove Awards had a record attendance this year, with it’s central theme focusing around “Better Together” as a way to promote unity. Gospel legends, such as Kirk Franklin and the Casting Crows wowed the audience with musical performances that had them to their feet.
The ceremony was hosted by “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson and Grammy Award winning artist, Erica Campbell.