So why Atlanta?
“We were looking for a place that was a true representation of all forms of gospel and Christian music,” said Ed Leonard, chairman of the board for the Gospel Music Association. “You’ve got Third Day, Casting Crowns, Karen Peck and New River, Chris Tomlin…I don’t know if there is another city other than Nashville that represents Christian music in its entirety than [Atlanta].”
Leonard commented on the move shortly after a press conference this morning in the Fox’s Egyptian Ballroom to announce nominees in 18 of the Dove Awards’ 43 categories.
Tomlin and TobyMac lead the nominations with six each, followed by Jason Crabb with five and Francesca Battistelli with four.
Battistelli was on hand to reveal some of the noms, as were members of Third Day (nominated for the song “Lift Up Your Face” and for rock/contemporary album for “Move”); Christian hip-hop artist LeCrae (nominated for the song “Background”); former “American Idol” finalist and multiple Dove winner Mandisa; and the trio of Kim Lord, Heather Day and Valerie Ruppe, who comprise the group Sisters.
The members of Third Day, which has won more than 20 Doves throughout its career, said they hope to be presenters or performers on the show. Those artists are expected to be announced within the next two weeks.
“We’re very proud of being from Georgia and there is such a great community of Christian artists here,” said Third Day’s Tai Anderson, adding that he and the band were surprised – pleasantly – when they heard the Doves were moving to Atlanta.
Though there is no long-term plan for the location of the show, Leonard said he’s pleased with ticket sales so far and is “open to keeping the Doves in Atlanta.”
“We’re looking forward to a show as beautiful and inspiring as this venue,” Leonard said.
Tickets for the Dove Awards, which will be hosted by Sherri Shepherd, are on sale now through all Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com and the Fox box office for $25-$200.
The ceremony will air at 7 p.m. April 24 (Easter Sunday) on GMC.