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A Dove Award is an accolade by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the Christian music industry. The awards are presented annually. Formerly held in Nashville, Tennessee, the Dove Awards took place in Atlanta, Georgia during 2011 and 2012, but has since moved back to Nashville. The ceremonies feature live musical performances and are broadcast on TBN.
The Dove Awards were originally conceptualized by Gospel singer and songwriter Bill Gaither, at a Gospel Music Association board meeting in 1968. The idea of the award being represented by a dove is credited to Gaither and design for the award itself is credited to gospel singer Les Beasley. The first GMA Dove Awards were held at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee in October 1969. In 1971, the awards moved to Nashville.
Because of the large number of award categories (42 in 2012), and the desire to feature several performances by various artists, only the ones with the most popular interest are presented directly at the televised version of the award ceremony.
The "General Field" includes seven awards which are not restricted by genre:
In 1998 the GMA published a new definition of gospel music. According to the definition, to be considered eligible for the Dove Awards, gospel music must have lyrics that are:
Substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible
An expression of worship of God or praise for His works; and /or
Testimony of relationship with God through Christ; and/or
Obviously prompted and informed by a Christian world view.
Prior to the definition, the only qualified music was that sold in Christian Booksellers Association affiliated stores. The new standards resulted in complaints by some fans and artists after thirteen entries were disqualified as being too secular in the 1999 Dove Awards. The rules were rescinded afterwards, and many groups disqualified by the rulings in 1999 were winners in 2000.