CeCe Winans Wins First Artist of the Year Award, Anne Wilson and TobyMac Shine

Let CeCe Winans sum up the spirit of the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. As she stood on stage, holding her first-ever Entertainer of the Year trophy, she responded not with a speech, but with an anthem.

“To God be the glory,” she sang, and the audience of peers and fans quickly joined in.

“…To God be the glory, for the things he has done.”

The annual awards ceremony — which recognizes all genres of contemporary Christian and gospel music — returned Tuesday to the Allen Arena at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Participants and the media were asked to keep the winners a secret until Friday evening, when the show aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

This year, a performance-packed evening culminated in a long-awaited honor for Winans, one of the biggest names in gospel music. And there were many more surprises, triumphant moments and performances that defined the ceremony in 2022.

CeCe Winans accepts the Entertainer of the Year award during the Dove Awards at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.

Winans winning night

In addition to Artist of the Year, Winans also won Song of the Year for “Believe For It.” The song was the title track of his 2021 live album and co-written with Dwan Hill, Kyle Lee and Mitch Wong.

“When we come together and love each other and stand up for justice, it’s amazing what God is going to do.” she says.

Anne Wilson’s journey to “My Jesus”

The 20-year-old Kentucky native was named Doves’ Best New Artist this year and quickly became one of CCM’s brightest young stars, largely thanks to her 2021 debut single “My Jesus.” The song is the result of a musical awakening Wilson had after losing his older brother in a car accident. While performing it at this year’s Doves, she recalled sitting at the piano the morning after her death and singing “What a Beautiful Name” by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

Anne Wilson performs during the Dove Awards at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.

“While I was playing, my parents heard and asked me if I would sing (the song) at the funeral,” she said. “It was my first time singing in front of someone. The song is an integral part of the story of the song ‘My Jesus’. I am so grateful to be able to share how the Lord turned a tragedy into something so beautiful.

Seconds later, Ligertwood joined Wilson on stage and the two launched into the chorus of “Beautiful Name.”

Erica Campbell and Chris Tomlin close the gap

Of all the annual awards shows held in Music City, the Doves are the most diverse – featuring rock, rap, bluegrass, soul, pop and country artists on the same stage.

This year’s co-hosts – Erica Campbell of soul gospel duo Mary Mary and CCM star Chris Tomlin – reflected that magnitude with a clear love for each other’s work and plenty of humor.

“We may not all sound the same, but our message is the same,” Tomlin said.

To illustrate, Campbell sang a bit of Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” but then asked Tomlin to try out his Southern rap-inspired “I Luh God.”

“Don’t you love my God? Tomlin knocked valiantly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nailed it!” Campbell told him.

TobyMac returns from a tragedy

The happiest musical moment of the night came right after TobyMac recalled a personal tragedy. In 2019, the Christian music stalwart’s eldest son died of an accidental overdose aged 21.

Onstage, he said there were times when he didn’t think he’d write another song — “much less…a song that sounded like joy.” But all I can tell you is that I learned that our God is good. It is good. He may not always give us what we want, or take away the pain, but He is there with us. I learned that he was not leaving. He stays.”

Blessing Offor performs at the Dove Awards at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.

He then launched into the uplifting “The Goodness”, featuring Blessing Offor on piano and dozens of spirited vocalists.

Impactful performance

Crowder opened the show with his seat scolding Southern rocker “Good God Almighty.” More than a dozen female talents, including Karen Peck, joined forces on a Southern gospel rendition of “Working on a Building.”

Steven Curtis Chapman treated Doves audiences to a fast-paced medley of career-spanning hits, including “The Great Adventure” and the new “Don’t Lose Heart” (“Boy, 35 Years Gone in a Hurry,” a he said between the pieces.)

The crowd dances during a performance at the Dove Awards at Lipscomb University's Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 18, 2022.

Other highlights included Phil Wickham’s engrossing arena-heavy “Holy is the Lord” (which followed a win for Best Worship Album), Gateway Worship Español’s groovy “Danzando” (the band received ecstatically the award for Spanish-Recorded Song of the Year) and a show-closing performance from Maverick City Music that ensured no one left early.

Another Dove Awards presentation will air on October 28 at 7 and 9 p.m. CT. It can also be watched on the official TBN website and app – visit TBN.org for local channel information and more.