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2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Award Nominees Announced

Karen Peck & New River and Joseph Habedank Named Most Nominated Artists; Producer Wayne Haun Scores Most Individual Nominations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (January 15, 2018) – The administrators and staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com are proud to announce the nominees for the 2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. As in years past, the nominees were chosen by the staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com and select media representatives. Starting on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the fans will get a chance to vote for their favorites in several categories.

“It’s hard to imagine that we’ve been doing this awards program for 17 years,” mentioned Deon Unthank, President/CEO of AbsolutelyGospel.com. “We believe that our staff does such a fantastic job of choosing nominees and winners, and this year is no different!”

“Our awards program has become such a fun staple in our industry,” mentioned Chris Unthank, Editor-In-Chief of AbsolutelyGospel.com. “Our blending of ‘critics choice’ and ‘fan awards’ provides a very unique view into our industry. This is going to be yet another exciting year for AGM and Gospel music.”

As far as nominations go, perennial favorites Karen Peck & New River and Joseph Habedank landed the most nominations this year. Both artists landed a stellar nine nominations apiece including individual nods in the Song of the Year category (for “Hope For All Nations” and “Here He Comes” respectively) and Album of the Year (for Hope For All Nations and Resurrection respectively)Karen Peck & New River’s group members Karen Peck Gooch and Matthew Gooch landed nods in Female Vocalist of the Year and Musician of the Year, while Habedank scored his ninth career nominations for both Male Vocalist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year (Artist) (an award he won back in 2011).

Two groups followed closely behind as 11th Hour and The Nelons scored an impressive eight nominations apiece for their work in 2017. Both groups had individuals (11th Hour’s Amber Eppinette and The Nelons’ Jason Clark) land in the hotly contested Songwriter of the Year (Artist)category.

Next in line was The Freemans with six nominations including a Song of the Year mention for their #1 hit song “It Still Takes the BloodMichael EnglishKingdom Heirs, and The Perrys each scored five mentions. Taking four nominations each were the Bowling SistersGold CityThe IsaacsJason CrabbSisters, and Triumphant.

Gordon MoteHIGHROADLauren Talley, and Tribute all landed three nods. Several artists earned double nominations, including the Booth BrothersGoodman RevivalGriffith FamilyGaither Vocal BandJim Brady TrioJeff SticeJonathan WilburnMichael CombsMisty FreemanNew Legacy ProjectThe Old PathsSteve Ladd, and Zane & Donna King.

Another perennial favorite, producer/songwriter Wayne Haun was the most nominated individual this year, taking a strong 11 nominations for his work this past year, including two separate Album of the Year mentions for his production work this year (for Karen Peck & New River’s Hope For All Nations and Joseph Habedank’s ResurrectionLee BlackJeff Collins, and The Nelons’ Jason Clark followed behind with six mentions for their songwriting and production work in 2017.

Songwriter Gerald Crabb earned an impressive five nods as well – including two mentions in the Song of the Year category. Amber EppinetteJason Cox, and Trey Ivey landed four nominations. Multiple people earned three nominations including Arthur RiceDianne Wilkinson,Heather Ruppe BennettJeremy MedkiffJimmy YearyKaren Peck GoochKim Ruppe SheffieldMichael SykesRebecca Isaacs BowmanRebecca J. PeckSonya Isaacs YearyTony Wood, and Valerie Ruppe Medkiff.

This year, the AGM Awards is introducing a new category: Christian Country Artist of the Year. This year’s nominees in this brand new category include Tommy BrandtChris GoldenMichael LeeOak Ridge BoysHillary Scott & the Scott FamilyJim Sheldon, and Bradley Walker.

More information on the 2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards Celebration will be forthcoming, including hosts, performers, and sponsors, etc. The date for this year’s Absolutely Gospel Music Awards Celebration is Tuesday, April 11, 2018.

The nominees for the 2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards are listed below:

SONG OF THE YEAR

“Chain Breaker” – Triumphant (Mia Fieldes, Jonathan Smith, Zach Williams)
“God of the Storms” – Tribute (Gerald Crabb, Savanah Foust)
“He Welcomes the Beggar” – 11th Hour (Jason Cox, Amber Eppinette, Kenna West)
“Here He Comes” – Joseph Habedank (Chris Cron, Joseph Habedank, Tony Wood)
“Hope For All Nations” – Karen Peck & New River (Lee Black, Benji Cowart, Karen Peck Gooch)
“I Will Stand” – Gold City (Lee Black, Jason Cox)
“It Still Takes the Blood” – The Freemans (Gerald Crabb)
“Love Is the Golden Rule” – Michael English (Chip Davis, Dony McGuire, Reba Rambo-McGuire)
“Praise God He’s Alive” – Bowling Family (Harvey Smith)
“Rocks” – The Isaacs (Rebecca Isaacs Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Hope For All Nations – Karen Peck & New River (Wayne Haun)
Long Run – Old Paths (Jeff Collins)
Love Is the Golden Rule – Michael English (Jason Clark, Jay DeMarcus)
No Excuses, No Regrets – Steve Ladd (Cody McVey)
Resurrection – Joseph Habedank (Wayne Haun)
Silence the Stones – 11th Hour (Jeff Collins)
Simply Sisters – Sisters (Heather Bennett, Jeremy Medkiff, Valerie Medkiff, Gordon Mote, Kim Sheffield)
Still Happy – Goodman Revival (Johnny Minick, Michael Sykes)
The Gospel – Lauren Talley (Lauren Talley)
The Last Big Thing – Kingdom Heirs (Jeff Collins, Arthur Rice)

MALE VOCALIST

Adam Crabb (Gaither Vocal Band)
Michael English
Joseph Habedank
Steve Ladd (Old Paths)
Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)
Jonathan Wilburn

FEMALE VOCALIST

Amber Eppinette (11th Hour)
Misty Freeman
Karen Peck Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)
Libbi Stuffle (The Perrys)
Lauren Talley (The Talleys)
Amber Nelon Thompson (The Nelons)

MALE GROUP

Booth Bothers
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Gaither Vocal Band
Kingdom Heirs
Tribute
Triumphant

FEMALE GROUP

Bowling Sisters
HIGHROAD
Master’s Promise
Sisters
Sweetwater Revival

MIXED GROUP

11th Hour
The Freemans
Karen Peck & New River
The Nelons
The Perrys
The Whisnants

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST

Bowling Sisters
Griffith Family
Jordan Family Band
Master’s Voice
New Legacy Project

 SONGWRITER (ARTIST)

Jim Brady (Jim Brady Trio)
Jason Clark (The Nelons)
Amber Eppinette (11th Hour)
Joseph Habedank
Becky & Sonya Isaacs (The Isaacs)
Donna King (Zane & Donna King)

SONGWRITER (PROFESSIONAL)

Lee Black
Jason Cox
Janice Crow
Rebecca J. Peck
Sue C. Smith
Kenna West
Dianne Wilkinson

PRODUCER

Jason Clark (The Nelons)
Jeff Collins
Ricky Free
Wayne Haun
Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs)
Trey Ivey
Donna King (Zane & Donna King)
Cody McVey
Gordon Mote

MUSICIAN

Kim Collingsworth (Collingsworth Family)
Bryan Elliott (Gold City)
Caylon Freeman (The Freemans)
Matthew Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)
Trey Ivey
Jeff Stice

TRADITIONAL SONG

“God of the Storms” – Tribute (Gerald Crabb, Savanah Faust)
“He’s Still Alive” – The Erwins (Rachel McCutcheon)
“I Will Stand” – Gold City (Lee Black, Jason Cox)
“Joy In the House” – The Whisnants (Marcia Henry, Barbara Huffman)
“Moses & Elijah”- The Perrys (Rebecca J. Peck, Dianne Wilkinson)
“The Last Big Thing” – Kingdom Heirs (Rebecca J. Peck, Dianne Wilkinson)

TRADITIONAL RECORDING

Still Happy – Goodman Revival (Johnny Minick, Michael Sykes)
Still the Same – The Whisnants (Trey Ivey)
Testament – The Perrys (Wayne Haun)
Thankful – Trumphant (Wayne Haun)
The Last Big Thing – Kingdom Heirs (Jeff Collins, Arthur Rice)

PROGRESSIVE SONG

“Ain’t No Bones” – 11th Hour (Sandy Knight)
“Chain Breaker” – Triumphant (Mia Fieldes, Jonathan Smith, Zach Williams)
“Here He Comes” – Joseph Habedank (Chris Cron, Joseph Habedank, Tony Wood)
“Hope For All Nations” – Karen Peck & New River (Lee Black, Benji Cowart, Karen Peck Gooch)
“If I Shout” – Jason Crabb (Jason Crabb, Michael Farren, Tony Wood)

PROGRESSIVE RECORDING

Hope For All Nations – Karen Peck & New River (Wayne Haun)
Love Is the Golden Rule – Michael English (Jason Clark, Jay DeMarcus)
Resurrection – Joseph Habedank (Wayne Haun)
Silence the Stones – 11th Hour (Jeff Collins)
Simply Sisters – Sisters (Heather Bennett, Jeremy Medkiff, Valerie Medkiff, Gordon Mote, Kim Sheffield)
The Beginning – Bowling Sisters (Mike Bowling, Aaron Crabb, Blaine Johnson)
The Gospel – Lauren Talley (Lauren Talley)

COUNTRY SONG

“He Sees What We Don’t” – Bowling Sisters (Amber Eppinette, Joseph Habedank)
“It Still Takes the Blood” – The Freemans (Gerald Crabb)
“Mysterious Ways” – Jason Crabb (Gerald Crabb, Jimmy Yeary)
“Rocks” – The Isaacs (Rebecca Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Yeary)
“Somewhere I’m Going” – HIGHROAD (Lee Black, Jerry Salley, Sue C. Smith)
“When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace” – The Nelons (Wayne Haun, Barbara Huffman)

 COUNTRY RECORDING

Another World – Southern Raised (Wayne Haun)
Tell Me the Story – Jonathan Wilburn (Scott Godsey)
The Americana Sessions – The Nelons (Jason Clark)
Tower of Song – The Freemans (Darrell Freeman, Dony McGuire, Michael Sykes)
Turn the Page – Misty Freeman (Scott Godsey, Trey Ivey)

SPECIAL EVENT PROJECT

A Very Perry Christmas – The Perrys (Wayne Haun)
Back Porch Christmas – Doug Anderson (Wayne Haun)
I’m Gonna Keep On: The Songs of Andrea Crouch – Jeff Stice
Sing Joy – Sisters (Heather Bennett, Jeremy Medkiff, Valerie Medkiff, Kim Sheffield)
The Americana Sessions – The Nelons (Jason Clark)
Treasures of Gold – Gold City (Daniel Riley)

MUSIC VIDEO

“Good vs. Evil” – Michael Combs
“He Can Take It” – Brian Free & Assurance
“Homesick For Heaven” – Jim Brady Trio
“Hope For All Nations” – Karen Peck & New River
“Somewhere I’m Going” – HIGHROAD
“When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace” – The Nelons

COUNTRY GOSPEL ARTIST
Tommy Brandt
Chris Golden
Michael Lee
Oak Ridge Boys
Hillary Scott & the Scott Family
Jim Sheldon
Bradley Walker

FAN FAVORITE ARTIST
11th Hour
2nd Generation
Booth Brothers
Griffith Family
Jason Crabb
Karen Peck & New River
Michael Combs
Michael English
New Legacy Project
Three Bridges

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Absolutely Gospel Music
Formed over 19 years ago by Deon & Susan Unthank originally as SoGospelNews.com, the site was birthed from an email discussion group by the same name. The SoGospelNews email discussion list was created by the Unthanks after the Singing News shut down its extremely popular discussion list. SoGospelNews started as a simple webpage listing artists, fans, individuals, etc. that were avid supporters of the newly formed SoGospelNews talk list. The site eventually took on printing news for Southern Gospel artists, and eventually took on reviewing the latest recordings from both signed and independent artists within the small genre. SoGospelNews became the most viewed Southern Gospel website on the Internet with over 4,000,000 hits per month.

The Unthank family are now involved in the site, as well as the addition of over two dozen staff writers. The website is based out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In April 2010, SoGospelNews changed its name to AbsolutelyGospel.com. The name change allows them to cover news items of not only Southern Gospel, but also Country Gospel, Inspirational, and Black Gospel.

On January 5, 2011, Susan Unthank passed away, leaving the website in control of Deon, their son, Chris, and their daughter Amy.

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