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MercyMe wins big at Christian music awards

April 29, 2004 at 2:21 PM

NASHVILLE, April 29 (UPI) -- Worship band MercyMe, whose "I Can Only Imagine" was a huge crossover hit last year, won the Christian music industry's top honor in Nashville, Tenn.

MercyMe was named best artist at the Gospel Music Association's Music Awards, the Tennessean reported Thursday, with the band's single "Word of God Speak," written by lead singer Bart Millard and producer Pete Kipley, also earning Dove awards for best song and best pop/contemporary recorded song.

Crossover pop singer Stacie Orrico won her first female vocalist honor, with her self-titled sophomore album taking home the pop/contemporary album prize.

Newcomer Jeremy Camp won for best new artist and best male vocalist, creating a surprise win in the later category by beating out veterans Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman.

Other surprises at the show, which will be broadcast on a major network for the first time in the event's history, included guest spots by country music's Vince Gill and U2 lead singer Bono.

Ex-professional football and baseball player Deion Sanders co-hosted the show, airing May 28 on UPN, with gospel star Yolanda Adams.

The awards were announced Wednesday.

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