NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Christian music industry showed renewed affection for one of its old favorites at the 33rd Annual Dove Awards, giving Michael W. Smith six awards, including best artist.

Smith wept, and thanked God, as he accepted his second best artist trophy Thursday. He first won the honor in 1999. ``I'm just grateful that he took a little runt from West Virginia, and he gave him a platform,'' Smith said. ``And I just give him all the praise and glory.'' Smith won for best praise & worship album for ``Worship,'' and best instrumental album for ``Freedom.'' He got two awards for each album, one as the artist and the other as a producer. His sixth award was best inspirational recorded song for ``Above All,'' a selection on ``Worship.'' Third Day, which won best artist in 2001, had another big year, winning five awards including best group and rock album for ``Come Together.'' Mac Powell, lead singer for the band, was named best male vocalist. ``Thank you to Mama for waking me up every Sunday morning and making me go to church,'' Powell said. The awards were presented at the Grand Ole Opry House, home of the Grand Ole Opry country music radio show. The show was hosted by singer Yolanda Adams and Kurt Warner, the star quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, who has been vocal about his Christian faith. ``One of five teen-agers buys gospel music,'' Warner bragged about his favorite music. ``Gospel music is leading all music styles in growth.''
The best female vocalist award went to Nicole C. Mullin, and best new artist was awarded to the female pop trio ZOEgirl. Bart Millard was named best songwriter, and his ``I Can Only Imagine'' won best song. The 19 performances at the ceremony focused on rock banks like Jars of Clay, Sonicflood and Third Day. But the genre's diversity was shown off with the rousing gospel of Kirk Franklin, the teen dance music of ZOEgirl and the hip-hop of tobymac, who was moonlighting from the popular trio dc Talk. Franklin showed off dance moves worthy of Prince. ``Before I got saved I was a breakdancer,'' Franklin said. ``My name was Kid Fresh.'' Awards were distributed in more than 40 categories, covering music genres including choral collections, Spanish language album and rap/hip-hop. Most were handed out before the two-hour televised show. Christian music had its best sales year ever in 2001, as measured by SoundScan. The genre - aided by a Christmas album from Mannheim Steamroller and the soundtrack to ``O Brother, Where Art Thou?'' - sold 49.9 million albums, up 12 percent from 2000. The gains came while the music industry as a whole declined 2.8 percent. The Dove Awards are produced by the Gospel Music Association, a trade organization founded in 1964 to promote Christian music. It has 5,000 members.
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