The Fabulous Fox Theater was a prime location for the 42nd Annual GMA Dove Awards that brought countless Christian and Gospel artists to the city of Atlanta on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

Grammy-Award-winners Mary Mary opened the show with a Rhythm Nation-esque performance of their new single “Never Wave My Flag,” which garnered a standing ovation from the crowd.  A never-seen-before performance titled “The Singing Pastors” was a memorable highlight. In an unforgettable move, Bishop Paul S. Morton and pastors Marvin Sapp, Smokie Norful, Dietrick Haddon and Donald Lawrence took over the stage together.

A Gospel fanfare of heavy hitters was in attendance including Kirk Franklin, Deitrick Haddon and Marvin Sapp and Atlanta’s own Tamela Mann took away an award for the Traditional Gospel Album of the Year. Attendees were touched as Marvin Sapp, who won the Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “The Best in Me,” dedicated the award to his late wife, MaLinda Sapp, who passed seven months ago of colon cancer.

Yvette Nicole Brown of the NBC show “Community” and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mother of Michael Oher, whose true life story inspired the film The Blind Side, were hits with the sold-out audience. Rapper LeCrae and the soulful Smokie Norful sung house-rocking tunes, and Kirk Franklin closed out the show in typical style, energized and uplifting.

Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow was a crowd favorite as he presented the first annual Uplift Someone Award, and a tribute to gospel great Sandy Patti, performed by the Female Vocalist of the Year nominees, also was a highlight of the show. Committed, season 2 winner of the NBC reality show The Sing Off, performed with award-winning quartet Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

Four African Americans won awards: Sapp, Mann, Israel Houghton (Gospel Album of the Year) and Lola Godheld (Urban Recorded Song of the Year).  TobyMac (Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year) and Francesca Battistelli (Artist of the Year) also were among the top winners of the evening.

Host Sherri Shepherd of the daytime talk show The View kept viewers engaged with her witty commentary and bubbly personality. At the top of the show, Shepherd exclaimed, “I love Jesus!” a feat she admits she could never do at her daytime gig. Shepherd was the first non-musical act to host the show.

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