Although MercyMe is no stranger to accolades across a 23-year career, the group hasn’t won a Dove Award in a major category since 2005. Thanks to their recent radio smash, “Even If,” which spent an unprecedented 19 weeks at No. 1, the band took home top honors at this year’s awards ceremony, held Oct. 17 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“We are products of the system. We’ve been Christian music fans our whole lives,” said MercyMe’s Bart Millard during one of the group’s multiple acceptance speeches. “What a stinkin’ awesome job to make music for the kingdom for a living.”

Millard was honored as the 2017 Songwriter of the Year (Artist).” MercyMe also won Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for Lifer (Fair Trade Services), released in March, in addition to earning the night’s most coveted prize, Artist of the Year.

While additional veteran acts took home a vast majority of the awards handed out across 39 categories, newcomers like Zach Williams (also named New Artist of the Year), Ryan Stevenson, Steven Malcolm, Hollyn, and Micah Tyler were introduced during performances, which later aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

Numerous acceptance speeches saw winners crediting their fellow artists with helping to ignite current inspiration. Reba McEntire, whose Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope (Capitol CMG) won Bluegrass/Country/Roots Album of the Year, bragged on The Isaacs and the personal impact she’s felt from their music.

Meanwhile, Hillsong Worship’s Ben Fielding reminisced about a Christian music pioneer while accepting the Song of the Year Dove for “What a Beautiful Name.”

“I can remember being 15 years old sitting in Melbourne, Australia, in my bedroom, and I found my dad’s old record player. The only records I could find were all Keith Green records,” Fielding recalled. “Those songs taught me so much about who God is, and I remember just daring to dream that maybe one day I would have the opportunity to do that for somebody else.”

See a complete list of winners at www.doveawards.com.

—Lindsay Williams

[Image photo credit] Jamie Gilliam and Grant Exline for Lipscomb University