You, as readers of this blog, decided who you thought represented the best of 2015. Over the course of the last several weeks you voted in polls that represented 20 different categories (also chosen by you). If you looked back through after the polls closed, you already know the winners, but I thought I would wrap up this year’s honors by listing the winners in each category. Thanks for participating and continuing to come by on a daily basis to let me know you want me to continue this blog.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
- “Pray Now” – Dave Clark/Michael Farren/Karen Peck; recorded by Karen Peck & New River (Pray Now)
*I’m not surprised Karen Peck and New River were given the highest honor of best recorded song of 2015. “Pray Now” was hands down, the song that best represented 2015 in Southern Gospel music. If I was hand picking the winners, my choice would have also been “Pray Now”.
Album of the Year (had to be a 2015 release)
- A New Look – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite Records)
*Pray Now by Karen Peck and New River was leading early, looking like they would go two for two. But the Kingdom Heirs, ultimately edged out a win for album of the year for A New Look. My choice would have gone to Pray Now, but all five contenders in this category were worthy of the win.
Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January to December 2015)
- “Battle Cry” – Lee Black/Joel Lindsey/Sue C Smith; recorded by the Kingsmen (Battle Cry)
*This was the closest vote tally of any category in the honors. The Kingsmen and Gaither Vocal Band (“Sometimes It Takes A Mountain”) were swapping the lead throughout but the Kingsmen were honored for their hit single, “Battle Cry”; the best single of 2015.
- “Greatest Of All Miracles” – Jim Brady Trio (A New Chapter); Squire Parsons
*This was no surprise. Ultimately one of the best cover songs in Southern Gospel music; beating the original recording by Gold City.
Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2015 release)
- Just Sing – Amber Nelon Thompson
*The Nelons had another good year, tallying four wins in this years honors. The first is Amber Nelon Thompson’s solo recording, Just Sing, picking up best album cover design.
- Kenna Turner West
*It is finally great to see non-performing/touring songwriters getting the recognition they deserve. It is also nice that the general Southern Gospel listening audience is also beginning to recognize these names. All five nominees in the songwriter category this year were non-performing/touring songwriters. Kenna Turner West is one of the best and she was given this year’s honor as best songwriter.
- Sheri Easter/Don Poythress/Kenna Turner West
*Kenna Turner West would grab two wins as she was also part of the best songwriting collaboration team of 2015. Along with Sheri Easter and Don Poythress, they penned one of the best recorded songs of the year; “Jesus Loves You”. The song was recorded by Jeff and Sheri Easter.
Artist – Quartet
*Fan favorites tended to dominate the artist categories. Triumphant grabbed best quartet of the year. My hand-picked choice would have gone to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.
Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)
- Collingsworth Family
*Another fan favorite, the Collingsworth Family picked up the honor for best mixed group. My choice would have gone to the Erwins.
- Greater Vision
*One can’t argue the contributions Greater Vision made to Southern Gospel this year with the release of As We Speak. For me, one artist would have slightly edged out Greater Vision; Karen Peck and New River.
Artist – Breakthrough (New)
- Jim Brady Trio
*A strong debut album (A New Chapter) along with a strong debut radio single (“Steppin’ Out In Faith”) and immediate name recognition made for a fairly easy choice for most voters.
Artist – Underrated (overlooked by majority of listeners)
- LeFevre Quartet
*While the Dunaways attempted to provide some competition, the LeFevre Quartet would pick up the honor for most underrated artist of 2015. Even though, the new album (Home) has been pushed back, the success of the first single, “He Left No Stone Unturned” was enough for this win.
- Chris Allman (Greater Vision)
*Greater Vision would grab a second win as Chris Allman picked up tenor vocalist.
Vocalist – Lead
- Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)
*Arthur Rice being snubbed from other fan voted award shows has given him two wins in a row for the Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.
Vocalist – Baritone
- Scott Inman (Triumphant)
*Triumphant would also grab a second win with Scott Inman garnering baritone vocalist.
- Eric Bennett (Triumphant)
*Actually, go ahead and make that three wins for Triumphant as Eric Bennett was chosen as best bass vocalist for 2015.
Vocalist – Alto
- Kelly Nelon Clark (Nelons)
*The Nelons would make a clean sweep of the female vocal spots as Kelly won Alto.
Vocalist – Soprano
- Amber Thompson (Nelons)
*And Amber would get her second soprano win in a row.
- “Without Your Love” – Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey; recoded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Joseph Habedank
*Amber Nelon Thompson’s success over the last couple years has been unmatched. She, alone, made up three of the four Nelon wins. “Without Your Love”, along with Jospeh Habedank garnered Amber a win for vocal collaboration of the year.
Hall Of Fame – Individual (artist with a 30+ year career in Southern Gospel still producing hits in 2015)
- Karen Peck Gooch (Artist/Songwriter)
*Karen Peck Gooch is one of the most known female vocalists in Southern Gospel music. Her career has now spanned more than thirty years. As a result, you honored Karen with the hall of fame individual for 2015.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Thanks for providing the best Southern Gospel had to offer in 2015; at least the readers of this blog think so.