(Photo courtesy of Emily Robertson)
A Day in the Life of a Red-Carpet Event (The Dove Award’s Style)
As told by Emily Robertson
Written by Emily Robertson and Sarah Komisky
Being invited to cover the 53rd annual GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards felt like an amazing opportunity to be involved in something new and exciting. Since 1969 the Doves have existed as a night to celebrate and honor the Christian music and Gospel genres. This year, Marked Ministry Magazine was invited to the prestigious Christian music awards show hosted by Chris Tomlin and Erica Campbell.
For me, the opportunity felt like an open door. Also, a new, very different opportunity to grow was like a welcome shift. I was getting to meet the people who are changing the culture in mass media form. Being given a chance to know what influences the influencers was an exciting new step!
Nominees included both new and long-standing artists such as Anne Wilson, Katy Nichole, Maverick City Music, KB, Francesca Battistelli, Phil Wickham, CeCe Winans Crowder, Dolly Pardon, for KING & COUNTRY, and more. But it also included creatives of all kinds ranging from movie producers to songwriters and more.
The event is as big as it gets. Think Academy or Grammy Awards in the Christian arena.
Getting ready for the Doves this October was a mix of excitement and calm at the same time. I didn’t know what exactly to expect. It is rare the older you get to go all out on a red-carpet event. And I certainly was going to make the most of it! As a native Tennessean myself, I couldn’t wait to return to my home state for this noteworthy evening in Nashville.
I also really loved the outfit I wore. In my ruffled, mustard floor-length skirt, heels, and mic in hand, I felt like a mini-media Cinderella. Walking through Lipscomb University’s campus’s press room, I had the opportunity to be with BET, TBN, and other media champions. I was also surrounded by a mix of people taking notes in preparation. During this time, I really enjoyed interacting with media people and hearing their stories. I shared about Marked Ministry and had the privilege of hearing from several other writers and radio professionals such as those who represented Prazer Radio, a Christian music streaming app similar to Spotify. People were very friendly, and it was fun to have real conversations. For any of you who have never been in a press room, the environment was surprisingly relaxing! You really could observe, record, and enjoy talking to the award winners. Also, you could watch the show in real time as it unfolded live and observe interviews by nominated recipients that came into the press room.
The red carpet on the other hand was much busier and had higher energy! People were excited to be there, and you could feel the nerves of some of the nominees as I got to hear them express their thoughts. Highlights included brushing shoulders with David Crowder and meeting his wife, Toni, and joining the carpet with well-known actor, Jonathan Roumie who plays Jesus on The Chosen. But the most meaningful person I got to see was an artist that meant a lot to me as a child, Steven Curtis Chapman. The song he wrote entitled, “Magnificent Obsession” was what I wanted to thank him for and I had a moment to do so. Then he and his wife gave me a big hug. They were both wonderful people.
Additionally, I attended the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’) 2023 mixer hosted by Gospel artist Smokie Norful at the classy and modern Sambuca restaurant. I met KB’s producer, Quinten, and his wife Nicole as well as up-and-coming artist, Jabari Johnson, and his girlfriend, Jasmine. I talked to the artists and discovered what they did, and how they got to where they were in life – including having a conversation with Evan Craft’s mother, Jill, and hearing how proud she was of her son! At the mixer, I also met Mogli the Iceberg from indie tribe and his wife, Victoria. When asked about the difference between Christian hip-hop and mainstream he shared, “Often hip-hop artists are rapping about the same things. We all are experiencing hardship, disappointments, and good things. However, the difference is how we interpret the hard things and the solution. We have hope in God, whereas mainstream culture continues to grind to make everything worth it.”
At the end of my night, I ended my autumn adventure with an invite to an after-party called, “The Sneaker Ball” hosted by Root Magazine in association with GMA Dove Awards. I was able to listen to some gospel artists and finish off with a bang as I celebrated all the nominated artists.
Reflecting on this experience, I can say that The Doves are special because you see the passion in many of the artists and why they do want they do. There is a feeling of celebration and thankfulness to be a part of changing culture through the arts. This year’s theme was “Sound of Heaven”, and The Doves reflects that. Being surrounded by incredible talent is one thing but hearing how their hearts are lit on fire by God is another experience. It was well worth it.