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GMA MUSIC AWARDS: OUR PICKS AND PREDICTIONS
[ by kim flanders ]

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Last year was the first year I voted in the Gospel Music Association (GMA) awards. I received my ballot in the mail and without much hesitation, I placed my votes, sealed the envelope, and and sent it off. With my level of membership, I was only able to vote in the top few categories. That was fine with me since I have never heard of some of the music and bands on the nomination list.

For once I was actually eager to hear who won. To be honest, last year was the first time I even paid any attention to the nominees. Other than being bombarded by congratulatory ads in various music magazines, I normally let the nominations process simply pass me by.

Then the day came. I sat in the media room during the 2004 GMA awards ceremony. Soon I realized that, despite my help, none of the bands I voted for gathered up a GMA award.

Here it is a year later. I received a ballot last week for the 2005 awards, scheduled for April 13th at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee. As I write this, the ballot is still sitting in the same location as it sat after I opened my mail that day. I don't have the same sense of eagerness that I had last year when I sent the envelope away. I know this may sound crazy, but I actually voted for what I like, not for some band I am promoting.

As I ponder whether or not to send my ballot in, I decided to do some speculating. I considered the list of nominees in each category, and determined who I would vote for versus who I believe will win. Here are the results:

New Artist of the Year
Nominees: My Vote:

I saw each of those nominees live at least once last year. So, my vote in this category is based on my favorite live performance. I was quite impressed when I saw Day of Fire perform on the Live Wire tour this past fall. And their CD is not too bad as well. One vote for Day of Fire.

My Prediction:

This is a hard one. Based on the appeal to the tween masses, I will place my prediction with BarlowGirl as New Artist of the Year.

Artist of the Year
Nominees:
My Vote:

Switchfoot. I mean, is there another choice?

My Prediction:

Well, Michael W. Smith did have a new album out last year, and I have seen a lot of publicity about him lately, so I'll place my prediction with Smitty.

Group of the Year
Nominees:
My Vote:

Take a wild guess.

My Prediction:

I would say it is between Casting Crowns and MercyMe. They both seem to have an edge in the Adult Contemporary scene these days. However, I undoubtedly received more press releases about Casting Crowns than MercyMe. So my prediction for Group of the Year is Casting Crowns.

Female Vocalist of the Year
Nominees:
My Vote:

I am one of those people who generally do not like most female vocalists. That is not to say that female vocalists are not talented. I just want the likes of Jennifer Knapp to once again make it out into the music scene. While some of the others on the list have quite powerful voices, I'll place my vote for Bethany Dillon.

My Prediction:

This is a hard one. I simply do not pay much, if any, attention to female vocalists. But I think young Bethany Dillon made a name for herself this last year. And maybe the new blood will win in this category. I predict Bethany Dillon for vocalist of the year.

Male Vocalist of the Year
Nominees:
My Vote:

Well, I must say that I am not into having the lead vocalist of a band win Male Vocalist of the Year. I know, Mac Powell of Third Day won one time, and since Third Day was my favorite band at the time, I did have an inkling of joy. Mac does, after all, have a good voice. But why can't the nominees be just male vocalists, not lead singers in a band?

This desire not to include lead singers for my vote in this category narrows down the playing field. And while none of them would be considered in my top favorites list, Jeremy Camp is someone I grew to like a bit more recently. So, he gets my vote.

My Prediction:

Seeing the results of a lot of publicity money being spent on Casting Crowns, I predict Mark Hall to win Male Vocalist of the Year.

Song of the Year:
Nominees:
  • "Blessed Be Your Name"; Matt Redman, Beth Redman
  • "Dare You to Move"; Jonathan Foreman (Switchfoot)
  • "Friend of God"; Israel Houghton, Michael Gungor
  • "Glory Defined"; Jim Cooper, Kenny Lamb, Jason Roy (Building 429)
  • "Healing Rain"; Michael W. Smith, Martin Smith, Matt Bronleewe
  • "Meant to Live"; Jonathan Foreman (Switchfoot)
  • "More"; Matthew West, Jason Houser, Kenny Greenberg
  • "Through the Fire"; Gerald Crabb
  • "Who Am I"; Mark Hall (Casting Crowns)
  • "You Raise Me Up"; Rolf Lovland, Brendan Graham
My Vote:

This is a hard one. Switchfoot is my favorite band and has been for a few years. But "Meant to Live" is really the song of 2003, and "Dare You to Move" is an old song as well. And while I am not a big Michael W. Smith fan, I have fond memories of Michael leading worship with Martin Smith of delirious? at the opening night of the GMA week last year.

That was the first time I heard the song, "Healing Rain." I loved it. And the next time I heard it was at the ONE Campaign rally in Philadelphia about a month later. Michael sat at the piano beside U2's Bono and played that song. I sang along. Ok, I'll make this vote based on my experiences of the song rather than my favorite band. (Sorry, Switchfoot. Will you still be my friends?)

My Prediction:

At my church, there is sometimes a rather long delay from when I first hear of a new worship song until it is actually sung at church. Usually this delay is a couple years. It is an on-going joke that the worship leader will stand up and share with the congregation a new song and ask, "Does anybody know this one?" I always raise my hand. And sometimes half the congregation joins me. You get the point.

Now enter the year 2004. Not even a year after Casting Crowns released its first CD, our church is seeking to get the CCLI number to project the words of "Who Am I" all over our walls. Apparently, when the worship team wanted to sing the song, it was not yet available. Follow my logic here. Since my church actually picked a song that was less than a year old, so new that the CCLI number was not available, then "Who Am I" gets my prediction for Song of the Year.

While it seems that the votes of the little people hold as much significance as day old mashed potatoes, I will still send in my votes. I will once again sit in the GMA awards media room. But this year, I hope to be better prepared to hear the winners as they are announced. And if Switchfoot does not win one of the top awards, I won't bang my head on the table as I did last year. I know better now.

For a full list of nominees, see http://www.gmamusicawards.com/categories/. Let's start a revolution. To see how you can become a member of the GMA and vote for the 2006 awards, visit http://www.gmamusicawards.com/voting2005/
- Kim Flanders
April 2005
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