Patriotism reigns at Doves in salute to American troops

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--A musical tribute and a prayer for the nation's armed services highlighted a patriotic salute by the Gospel Music Association during the 34th Annual Dove Awards April 10 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Third Day, which won its third Dove as Group of the Year, kicked off the festivities with a special acknowledgment of the troops and the downfall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I want to say real quick, there is freedom in Iraq tonight," lead singer Mac Powell told a crowd of cheering fans holding up their hands in support of the troops. "[We] lift our hands before God and in prayer for our world."

Third Day band members acknowledged military personnel they personally knew and encouraged fans to pray for them daily.

Later in the evening Southern Gospel Dove winners The Crabb Family dedicated their performance to the troops, performing a patriotic melody with stirring images of soldiers displayed on video monitors.

Michael W. Smith, who maintains close friendships with President Bush and former President George H.W. Bush, said he was honored to be a part of the network of those giving encouragement and support to the first family.

"I'm in complete awe that I'm even in the White House," said Smith, who won top honors as Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. Former President Bush appeared in a taped video tribute to Smith prior to an all-star performance of Smith's hit song, "Friends."

The song has "had an impact on millions of people," Bush said. "Michael has been an ambassador of good news for 20 years. 'Friends' is a personal favorite in our house. Thank you and God bless, Michael. We have been blessed to call you friend."

Major award winners for the night included Nichole Nordeman, Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year; Brown Bannister, Producer of the Year; and Third Day, Group of the Year.

The Paul Coleman Trio, an Australian-based band, won the New Artist of the Year category. During a backstage news conference, the band members reflected on their participation in TruthQuest: California, a reality based television series sponsored by Baptist Press, FamilyNet Television and Broadman & Holman Publishing.

"It was a really good experience," Coleman said. "We found the concept fascinating. The show was about people and relationships, the good and the bad. They looked at people as the focus and not the music."


(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: RECOGNIZING THE PATRIOTS and ALL IN THE FAMILY.

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