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21st Annual Absolutely Gospel Music Awards Handed Out

Karen Peck & New River and The Isaacs Named Big Winners of the Evening

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – May 18, 2022 – After a three wait, the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards returned to a live show and pay-per-view event last night at the Historic Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee to a room full of industry professionals, recording artists, and fans.

Perennial favorites Karen Peck & New River and The Isaacs were the night’s big winners, each taking home three trophies. Karen Peck & New River was named Mixed Group of the Year and Fan Favorite of the Year, and group guitarist Matthew Gooch won Musician of the Year. The Isaacs were honored in the categories of Country Gospel Artist of the Year and Music Video of the Year (for “The American Face”), while Becky & Sonya Isaacs took home their seventh career Songwriter of the Year (Professional) title.

Tribute Quartet, songwriter Jason Cox, and producers Jeff Collins and Wayne Haun each took home two awards during the live presentation.

The 21st Annual Absolutely Gospel Music Awards featured a bevy of enthusiastic performances from some of the industry’s most beloved names, including Country Music all-star John Berry, GMA Hall of Fame inductees The Nelons, LeFevre Quartet, Jim & Melissa Brady, The Freemans, The Sound, The Erwins, Southbound, Endless Highway, and the Music City Quartet. The evening was hosted by veteran comedian Tim Lovelace to the delight of the audience.

“With the loss of so many wonderful people over the last two years, it would have been very easy for us to throw our hands in the air and give up, especially with the loss of our father and AbsolutelyGospel.com founder Deon,” mentioned Editor-in-Chief Chris Unthank. “But that wasn’t what God had planned for this site and awards program, so we trusted Him to see it through.”

“God has been very good to allow us to move forward with our parents’ vision,” said Amy Marie Zika, acting president of AbsolutelyGospel.com. “We believe Mom & Dad were smiling down on us throughout the evening and rejoicing with the performers as they representing this industry so well.”

The evening also featured special moments of musical tribute to two of the site’s most dedicated supporters – songwriter Dianne Wilkinson (with a rousing rendition of her hit song “Boundless Love” by the LeFevre Quartet) and musician Jeff Stice (with a beautiful instrumental moment dedicated to the beloved pianist by studio musician Jeff Duffield).

The Susan Unthank Memorial Award was given to industry supporter Bev McCann, while the newly minted Deon Unthank Memorial Award was given to respected engineer Steve Chandler.

A complete list of winners:

SONG OF THE YEAR: “I Call It Home” – Tribute Quartet (written by Squire Parsons)

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Bigger Than Sunday – Triumphant Quartet (produced by Wayne Haun & Scotty Inman)

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Joseph Habedank

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Autumn Nelon Clark (of The Nelons)

BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Southbound

MALE GROUP OF THE YEAR: LeFevre Quartet

FEMALE GROUP OF THE YEAR: Kelly Crabb & the Bowling Sisters

MIXED GROUP OF THE YEAR: Karen Peck & New River

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR (ARTIST): Becky & Sonya Isaacs (of The Isaacs)

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR (PROFESSIONAL): Jason Cox

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR: Jeff Collins

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR: Matthew Gooch (of Karen Peck & New River)

TRADITIONAL SINGLE OF THE YEAR: “The God I Know” – The Erwins (written by Jason Cox & Kenna Turner West)

TRADITIONAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR: More To the Story – The Kingsmen (produced by Jeff Collins)

PROGRESSIVE SINGLE OF THE YEAR: “First Church of Mercy” – The Sound (written by Lee Black & Aaron Wilburn)

PROGRESSIVE RECORDING OF THE YEAR: Ever Faithful – Jim & Melissa Brady (produced by Jim Brady & Jason Webb)

COUNTRY/ROOTS SINGLE OF THE YEAR: “God Walks In” – The Freemans (written by Sue C. Smith, Reba Rambo, and Dony McGuire)

COUNTRY/ROOTS RECORDING OF THE YEAR: Come Home – Endless Highway (produced by Wayne Haun)

SPECIAL EVENT PROJECT OF THE YEAR: Once Again – Tribute Quartet (produced by Tribute Quartet)

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR: “The American Face” – The Isaacs

COUNTRY GOSPEL ARTIST OF THE YEAR: The Isaacs

FAN FAVORITE ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Karen Peck & New River

SUSAN UNTHANK MEMORIAL AWARD: Bev McCann

DEON UNTHANK MEMORIAL AWARD: Steve Chandler

For more information – visit www.absolutelygospel.com .

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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.