This award program is sponsored by the SGN Scoops magazine / e-newsletter. I recognize that it is hardly the most prestigious award program out there, but I filled it out and posted my guesses partially just for the fun of it and partially because they have a few categories which will no longer be in the Singing News Fan Awards.
1. J.D. Sumner Living Legend Award: I went with Mark Trammell. The requirements of a 25+ year career and of significant contributions fit him perfectly. Nobody else can match his resume, either–25 years with stints in Southern Gospel’s four biggest groups (three quartets and a trio), before starting his own ministry and trio.
2. Group of the Year: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound barely edged out the Perrys. I wanted to vote for each, but ended up deciding for Signature Sound because they’ve pretty much had a banner year, while the Perrys had to spend some time rebuilding after Loren Harris left and Nick Trammell joined.
3. Trio of the Year: The Mark Trammell Trio, easily. Be watching for more great things with their upcoming radio single, the anthem “Once Upon a Cross.”
4. Duet of the Year: Left blank.
5. Soloist of the Year: Christian Davis. The award “recognizes male or female performers who record as a solo artist.” Even though he tours with a group, Davis indisputably recorded a solo project this year. Since this was the first Southern Gospel solo project I enjoy as much as I enjoy group projects, it was an easy choice.
6. Male Vocalist of the Year: Eric Phillips.
7. Female Vocalist of the Year: Olivia Collingsworth.
Why on earth did I vote for Olivia? Simply because I can–and because I do like her solos with her family. In the Singing News Fan Awards, I’ll probably vote for Libbi Perry Stuffle as I always do. I originally planned to vote for Libbi here, but then the idea struck.
8. Song of the Year: “Walk Away Free” by the Perrys, far and away the best song the Perrys recorded in 2006. The only other song I seriously considered was “I Have Been Changed” (Legacy Five, Glenn Dustin solo). But in the end, the subtle work of genius (transposing from G to C then back again) in the second verse of “Walk Away Free” put it over the top.
9. Video of the Year: “Coral Ridge Live” – Blackwood Brothers. I had to choose between this video, with great visuals but somewhat less-than-top-notch audio, and Legacy Five’s “Live in Music City,” with great audio but less-than-top-notch visuals. Since it’s a video award, and the focus is on the visuals, I went with the Blackwood Brothers. (Plus, their email update referred me to these awards, and I wanted to find at least one category in which to vote for them.)
10. Album of the Year: Come Thirsty by the Perrys. Signature Sound didn’t release an album in 2006, and the Mark Trammell Trio didn’t release an album of new songs. So I went with this one by default.
11. Songwriter of the Year – Kyla Rowland. I could have gone with either Dianne Wilkinson or Kyla Rowland on this one.
12. Instrumentalist of the year: Stewart Varnado. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I think very highly of his abilities. It’s one thing to accompany a group with the help of a London Philharmonic soundtrack; it’s another thing to do what Stewart does every night, and carry the entire show himself with a bit of help from Scoot Shelnut on bass guitar.
13. Sunrise Award: Ball Brothers. If you visit their website and listen to “Mercy Said No” on their main page audio player, you will know why I picked them. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link appears to be down, and has been removed.]
14. Best Artist Website: www.dixieechoes.com. I take this category seriously, and don’t just vote for the websites of my favorite groups. From a website design perspective, the two frontrunners were the Dixie Echoes and Triumphant Quartet websites. The added bonus of an exhaustive history section sealed my decision to go with the Dixie Echoes’ site. I might add that this website is designed and maintained by my favorite instrumentalist, Stewart Varnado.
15. Favorite Industry Website. This is a category in which my website is (I believe) eligible, so I won’t disclose my vote in this category.
16. Favorite Christian Comedian: Gerald Wolfe. His sense of timing is impeccable, and he can read an audience like few others.
17. Bluegrass Gospel Artist of the Year: Lewis Family. I don’t really have a favorite, so I just put the Lewises down. I like listening to them for a change of pace once in a while.