Absolutely Gospel Awards 2012: My Reactions

It’s late, but I wanted to gather some thoughts on how the Absolutely Gospel Awards turned out this year in some of the major categories. First, I want to tip my hat to the Unthanks and everyone else involved in this awards show. They consistently recognize the very best in our genre. One never comes away from browsing a list of AG winners saying, “Well, that was pointless. At least half of those people didn’t deserve their trophies.” To the contrary, I feel like it’s spot-on most everywhere. They’re doing southern gospel a wonderful service here.

So for what it’s worth, here are my two cents on the latest batch of winners. I’ve listed the original nominees with the winners’ names in bold.

MALE VOCALIST

Chris Allman (Greater Vision)
Doug Anderson (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Jim Brady (Booth Brothers)
Jason Crabb
Joseph Habedank (The Perrys)

Honestly, how could I complain? Doug turned in some fine vocal work this year, particularly on Signature Sound’s new songs “Sometimes I Wonder” and “Singing In the Midnight Hour.” However, I would have been tempted to go with Chris Allman, if only just for his cover of “I Know a Man Who Can.” But this was a tough category and Doug is a perfectly deserving winner here.

FEMALE VOCALIST

Becky Isaacs Bowman (The Isaacs)
Karen Peck Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)
Kim Lord (Sisters)
Libbi Stuffle (The Perrys)
Amber Thompson (The Nelons)
Sonya Isaacs Yeary (The Isaacs)

Libbi is a very inspiring singer and personality. To me, she recalls Vestal. Another deserving winner. However, I personally might have gone with Kim Lord of Sisters. All of the Sisters are outstanding vocalists, and they’ve been turning heads this year for good reason.

MALE GROUP:

Beyond the Ashes
Booth Brothers
Gaither Vocal Band
Gold City
Greater Vision
Triumphant Quartet

All worthy candidates. However, the Booth Brothers released some of their strongest material this year, so I would have been inclined to go with them.

FEMALE GROUP: 


Perry Sisters
Red Roots
Sisters
Sweetwater Revival

Duh. Moving on… :)

MIXED GROUP: 


Bowling Family
Collingsworth Family
The Isaacs
Karen Peck & New River
The Perrys

KPNR is a logical choice since they had the song of the year, though I might have gone with the Collingsworth family instead.

BEST LIVE PERFORMER:

Booth Brothers
Collingsworth Family
Jason Crabb
Gaither Vocal Band
The Isaacs

This is tough. All nominees are excellent in this category. Any one of them would be a deserving winner. The Collingsworths’ harmonies have only become more refined. Jason Crabb has brought a great live element to the genre with his phenomenal band.  But ultimately… I agree with the final choice. Michael Booth’s emceeing is better than ever, and the Brothers provide the perfect mix of showmanship and ministry with their live concerts.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: 


Blue Skies – The Perrys (W.Haun)
Family Ties – Wilburn & Wilburn (B.Isaacs)
Let It Be Known – Booth Brothers (L.Goss)
New Day – The Martins (J.DeMarcus)
Part of the Family – Collingsworth Family (W.Haun)
Reach Out – Karen Peck & New River (W.Haun)
Somebody’s Coming – Gold City (M.English, D.Riley)
Treasures Unseen – Beyond the Ashes (W.Haun)
We Will Stand Our Ground – Kingdom Heirs (J.Collins, A.Rice)
Why Can’t We – The Isaacs (B.Isaacs)

I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised by this choice, but then again I haven’t heard the album. Some of my favorites from this list include Family Ties, Part of the Family, and Let it Be Known.

PROGRESSIVE SOUTHERN ALBUM: 


Dreamin’ Wide Awake – Doug Anderson (E.Haase, W.Haun)
Family Ties – Wilburn & Wilburn (B.Isaacs)
Feels Like Sunday – Bowling Family (M.Bowling, T.Thompson)
Let It Be Known – Booth Brothers (L.Goss)
New Day – The Martins (J.DeMarcus)
Reach Out – Karen Peck & New River (W.Haun)
Treasures Unseen – Beyond the Ashes (W.Haun)

For me, it was a toss-up between Let it Be Known and the Wilburns’ Family Ties. I would have been happy to see either project win. However, I really enjoyed Doug Anderson’s solo album as well, and KPNR and Beyond the Ashes had some memorable moments on their projects.

PROGRESSIVE SOUTHERN SONG: 


“Jesus Saves” – LeFevre Quartet (T.Cottrell, D.Moffitt)
“May I Never Get Over the Cross” – Eighth Day (M.L.Allen, R.Arthur)
“Never Walk Alone” – Brian Free & Assurance (J.Johnson, J.Williams)
“On the Banks of the Promised Land” – Karen Peck & New River (J.Dyba, D.Moffitt, S.C.Smith)
“Unredeemed” – The Martins (C.Cates, B.Petak, T.Wood)

I have trouble picking a favorite here, partly because two of these songs were borrowed straight from CCM, “Unredeemed” and “Jesus Saves.” They are both outstanding songs, but it seems a bit odd to nominate cover songs for what’s supposed to be a specifically southern gospel award. I would have swapped out a song like “Unredeemed” for, say, the Wilburns’ “A Cross Became My Saving Grace.” As the list stands, if I were going on sheer “Which song is the best?” criteria, “Jesus Saves” would be my easy pick. However, “On the Banks of the Promised Land” is a more fitting winner for this category as an authentic southern song. It is also an excellent piece.

TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN SONG

“Bring On the Joy” – Tribute Quartet (A.Downing, D.Williams)
“Celebrate Me Home” – The Perrys (W.Haun, J.Lindsey)
“God So Loves Me” – Greater Vision (R.Griffin)
“He’s Everything I Need” – The Kingsmen (J.Habedank)
“Love Came Calling” – Triumphant Quartet (W.Haun, J.Lindsey)

“Love Came Calling” would have been my pick here, but I understand why “Celebrate Me Home” won.

TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN ALBUM:

Blue Skies – The Perrys (W.Haun)
Part of the Family – Collingsworth Family (W.Haun)
Sailing Smooth – Southern Sound (B.Harris)
Somebody’s Coming – Gold City (M.English, D.Riley)
The Waiting Is Over – Tribute Quartet (R.Talley)

Some good choices here, but I would have to go with the Collingsworth Family on this one. Even though Somebody’s Coming was a strong project,  Part of the Family was more memorable to me.

SONGWRITER (ARTIST):

Jim Brady (Booth Brothers)
Phil Cross
Rodney Griffin (Greater Vision)
Joseph Habedank (The Perrys)
Becky & Sonya Isaacs (The Isaacs)

Again, while I haven’t heard the Isaacs’ latest album, I do feel the award should have gone to Jim Brady this year. He did some of his best work on the Booth Brothers’ latest, as well as contributing to the BFA gem “Stand Among the Millions” (my personal favorite from their latest).

SONGWRITER (PROFESSIONAL):

Marty Funderburk
Twila LaBar
Joel Lindsey
Rebecca J. Peck
Sue C. Smith
Kenna West
Dianne Wilkinson

So many good choices here. Kenna West is a deserving winner, having had a hand in songs like “We All Came to the Cross,” Legacy Five’s “Ask Me Why” and the BFA hit “I Believe.” However, I may have been tempted to hand the award to either Sue Smith (who co-penned the Song of the Year) or Dianne Wilkinson (who wrote two of her best songs ever this year) instead.

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST: 


Mark209
Red Roots
The Old Paths
The Taylors
Wilburn & Wilburn

Wilburn & Wilburn are the clear winners here. No contest really. Question: Why were the Old Paths nominated?

So there you go. Let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices in the comments!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Absolutely Gospel Awards 2012: My Reactions

  1. I was surprised by Doug Anderson’s win, but not disappointed. It was a very strong category where anyone could have picked up the win. I was really pleasantly surprised by all of Karen Peck & New River’s wins. Reach Out was one of my favorite projects from last year! I thought the Perrys also had a strong album with Blue Skies and expected them to pick up more wins than they did. Overall I definitely agreed with the winners!

  2. coomercove

    RE: Why were Old Paths nominated? First, I will say right up front that the Old Paths are my favorite current group, so I am biased. That said, while Wilburn & Wilburn deserved the win in that category, I think the Old Paths would clearly be second in that group of nominees. The Old Paths currently have their first top 15 song (with a chance to move higher) on the Singing News chart, recently signed with Crossroads, and next week will release their first major label recording (probably their most complete and commercially appealing project to date).

    Late last summer, they completely “stole the show” at a concert with the Hoppers, Gold City, and Voices Won. It wasn’t even close as to which group had the best crowd response that night. While their momentum slowed a bit when their bass singer left (the second time the same singer left them when they were very close to really “breaking through” in the industry), new bass Daniel Ashmore’s quick development and the songs on the upcoming CD will have them rolling again. Again I’m biased, but I think the Old Paths are the best “young” traditional quartet in the industry.

    • Well, I think they’re great too, but the main reason I asked is that I thought they’d been around for a while, so I wouldn’t automatically think of them as “Breakthrough” artists. However, I suppose the category could apply to an artist who’s been making music for a while but is only just now having more success.

  3. NWBaritone

    I definitely think Jim Brady should have won the songwriting category. “What about now?” is a song that I really enjoy. Of course, I am no doubt a bit biased. I’m a huge fan of the Booth Brothers, but I don’t have to be objective :-)

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