The 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards Roundup: Gospel Field

January 25, 2007 -- 3:59 pm PST

The GRAMMY Awards honor recordings in 108 categories across 31 fields, from rap to classical. To help readers get a better sense of the nominees and the wealth of recordings they’ve created over the past year, has prepared these field Roundups, which give quick details on the nominees in an easy-to-read format.

Showing gospel's continued reach across the musical landscape, The Recording Academy debuts a new award category in the Gospel Field this year: Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album. Last year, the Best Gospel Song category debuted.

Nominess for BEST GOSPEL PERFORMANCE reflect the industry's roots. Three-time GRAMMY winner Yolanda Adams is nominated for "Victory," off The Gospel — Soundtrack release, a film in which she also appeared. Israel & New Breed are nominated for "Not Forgotten" from their Alive In South Africa release. Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers are nominated for "The Blessing Of Abraham" off Finalé Act One, the first installment of the Tri-City Singers' two-part farewell that closes out a 15-year musical partnership. Modern worship leader Chris Tomlin receives his first-ever GRAMMY nominations this year in the Gospel Field; "Made To Worship" was a 2006 Christian radio hit off his See The Morning release. Now nominated for "Victory," off Victory Live!, Tye Tribbett once sang backup for Justin Timberlake, Sting and Faith Hill. Leading G.A. ("Greater Anointing"), he's known for his sharp style as well as musical substance.

Donald Lawrence penned gospel radio hit "The Blessing Of Abraham," nominated in the BEST GOSPEL SONG category; the song offers an inspiring message to live life to its fullest. Three-time GRAMMY winner Kirk Franklin is nominated for "Imagine Me," a song offering a message of forgiveness and self-esteem. Producer Brown Bannister and Third Day lead singer Mac Powell wrote the Southern-rock styled "Mountain Of God" for a 2002 multi-artist project Traveling Light: Songs From The 23rd Psalm; Third Day liked it so much they included it on their 2006 Wherever You Are release. Israel Houghton and New Breed musical director/producer Aaron Lindsey co-wrote "Not Forgotten," inspired by both Psalm 139 and Manhattan's Times Square. Tye Tribbett’s "Victory" tackles the subject of spiritual warfare, a theme of the Victory Live! release.

In the new category of BEST ROCK OR RAP GOSPEL ALBUM, the arena-rock stylings of DecembeRadio's self-titled debut earn this foursome their first GRAMMY nomination. One of the few female artists nominated in the Gospel Field this year, Sarah Kelly's Where The Past Meets Today was heralded for the singer's muscular vocals and candid, autobiographical songs. One-time blues guitar prodigy Jonny Lang is all grown up now; on Turn Around, his first foray into the gospel world, he declares his newfound faith. Crashing guitars and lush strings give Red a melodic hard rock sound. They are nominated for their debut, End Of Silence. T-Bone pays homage to his hop-hop and rap idols, channeling everyone from the Beastie Boys to Jay-Z on Bone-A-Fide.

Several new faces appear in the BEST POP/CONTEMPORARY GOSPEL ALBUM category this year. Leeland scored a hit with its debut, Sound Of Melodies, a project that offers lushly orchestrated pop and worshipful lyrics. MercyMe pushes beyond its customary adult contemporary pop sound and worship focus to bring its artistry to a new level on Coming Up To Breathe. Third Day gives its Southern rock edge a pop sheen on Wherever You Are, a collection of personal songs designed to offer encouragement in troubled times. Worship leader Chris Tomlin's See The Morning yielded an inspirational hit with "Made To Worship," also nominated in the Best Gospel Performance category. Already a hit in the Caribbean, Ayiesha Woods sizzled on America’s Christian music scene. Her debut, Introducing Ayiesha Woods, showcased her versatility with jazz, reggae, pop and R&B styles.

Kenny Bishop, former leader of Southern gospel trio the Bishops, struck out on his own this year with a country-drenched self-titled solo debut. He is nominated for BEST SOUTHERN, COUNTRY OR BLUEGRASS GOSPEL ALBUM. Also in this field are the Gaither Vocal Band for Give It Away. They took home the GRAMMY in this category in 1991 for Homecoming. Country crooner Alan Jackson is nominated for his first gospel album, Precious Memories, a collection of traditional hymns. The Del McCoury Band reached deep into their Southern gospel archives for material for their first all-gospel collection, The Promised Land. Randy Travis cements his move from country star to gospel troubadour with Glory Train, a collection of classic hymns and worship songs.

In the BEST TRADITIONAL GOSPEL ALBUM category, nominee Byron Cage brings an urban feel to traditional praise and worship material on An Invitation To Worship. 2006 marked the reunion of the Caravans, gospel legends of the '50s and '60s, who on Paved The Way revisit their hits of the past and unveil some new songs. The Dixie Hummingbirds reach into their 70-year history on Still Keeping It Real, a collection that preserves their signature gospel quartet sound, modernized with contemporary instrumentation. Israel & New Breed's multicultural praise extravaganza, Alive In South Africa, captures the energy and anointing of the group's August 2005 Cape Town concerts. Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers are also nominated for Finalé Act One.

Myron Butler won a 1997 GRAMMY for his work with gospel choir God's Property and is now front and center with his own vocal group, Levi, nominated in the BEST CONTEMPORARY R&B GOSPEL ALBUM category for their debut, Set Me Free. Kirk Franklin bares his heart and soul on Hero, a no-holds-barred look at sin and redemption. Israel & New Breed apply their distinctive musical blend to the holiday genre with A Timeless Christmas, a collection of Christmas classics. The granddaughter and daughter of gospel legends (Dr. Mattie Moss Clark and Karen Clark-Sheard respectively), Kierra Kiki Sheard has an impressive pedigree, but on This Is Me she forges new ground with her fresh, urban sound. Theatricality, humor and a strong praise message distinguish Tye Tribbett & G.A.'s Victory Live! release, recorded at Philadelphia's Deliverance Evangelistic Church.