It is something everyone longs for no matter the age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. We were created by God with an inborn longing for fellowship with others. We were not made to live this life alone.
However, we live in a self-seeking world that tells us we need to be fully independent– that we need to stand out from others. We are taught that if we want to climb the ladder, we need to be fierce and self-driven; it is the survival of the fittest.
Oftentimes, this is the case in the music industry as well. Artists want to make a name for themselves and are willing to do almost anything to do so. In “The Biz,” creativity is driven by business, and business is driven by self-gain.
At first, I automatically assumed this doctrine to be true across the board. That was until I attended the Dove Awards.
My role in the Doves was simple: I was to be behind the scenes, talking to artists if I had the opportunity, and taking in everything I could from the perspective of a worship arts and public relations student. What I found was so much more than what I expected.
The Dove Awards combine multiple events in one: a red-carpet walk, 1-on-1 interviews, a press conference, featured performances, and an awards ceremony. The show portion of the Doves was held in Allen Arena, and everything else was located in the Student Activities Center of Lipscomb University.
At 4 pm, the SAC was buzzing; the energy was electric. Artists from around the globe streamed into the unrecognizable gym courts to enter the process of a red-carpet walk to interviews to finding their seats in Allen.
Most were dressed to the nines with extravagant, vibrantly-colored dresses and suits. Some dressed more traditionally, and others dressed in a more modern chic style– even championing neon sunglasses.
“I just wear what my wife picks out for me,” remarked Crowder when asked about his navy Gucci x Adidas suit jacket.
As the artists began to make their way down the interview aisle, the atmosphere was professional yet relational. It was almost as if a formal family reunion was taking place. Artists from all over the map reconnected with one another as old friends rather than competitors; it was a homecoming of sorts.
The interviews themselves were conversational and down-to-earth. In each one, God was the center of discussion, as each artist attributed their success to the One who had given them their talent and passion for music.
One particular interview with Brooke Ligertwood stood out to me. Ligertwood is a Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter from New Zealand who has collaborated with Hillsong Worship on popular songs such as “What a Beautiful Name” and “Who You Say I Am.” She also has a solo career in worship music with her 2022 album, SEVEN.
During this interview, Ligertwood spoke with intentionality, kindness, and humility. Unlike the self-promotional talk often heard in interviews like these, Ligertwood put aside her achievements and focused on God:
“He [God] is trustworthy. We don’t got this, but He does.”Brooke Ligertwood
“In June of 2017, I lost my older brother, Jacob, in a car accident at 23 years old. It is probably the most hopeless feeling in the entire world when you lose someone you love. The next morning, I sat down at the piano and started to sing ‘What a Beautiful Name’ by Brooke Ligertwood. I really just took that time to thank the Lord for giving me Jacob for the years that I had him. As I was playing, my parents overheard and asked if I would sing ‘What a Beautiful Name’ at the funeral. It was the first time I had ever sung in front of anyone. This song is an integral part of the story of the song ‘My Jesus.’ I’m so grateful to share how the Lord turned a tragedy into something so beautiful. For me, moving forward, no matter how hard this gets, I’m choosing to trust God.”
A compelling moment of community was felt across the board when Brooke Ligertwood and Anne Wilson transitioned into a chorus of “What a Beautiful Name.” Other artists were the first to rise in support. This connection between Wilson, Ligertwood, and fellow artists quickly spread throughout the entirety of Allen Arena. All voices lifted in praise at that moment is what I imagine the sound of Heaven to be like.
In the press conference that followed, this sense of community was reiterated. Gateway Worship spoke of the bond between artists, their group, and the bond that had been formed because of a shared purpose:
“Being united, celebrating one another’s accomplishments… We sing something that we love, that we wrote together as a community.”Gateway Worship
Through this behind-the-scenes experience of the Dove Awards, it is evident that there is a strong community that lies in the Contemporary Christian Music world. Artists were authentic and supported each other, spurring one another in personal and communal growth. They did not focus on their differences, but instead on what drew them together.
On October 18, 2022, what united the community in Allen Arena was a shared purpose that could only come from God; a theme that will continue into next year’s Dove Awards.