The First Dove Award WinnersBill Gaither, who has gone on to become one of the most respected men in the industry, was the very first Songwriter of the Year. James Blackwood, who passed away in 2002, was the first Male Vocalist of the Year. Vestal Goodman, another legend who joined her Heavenly household in 2003, was the first Female Vocalist of the Year. The Imperials and the Speer Family were the first groups of the year, with the Imperials taking home the Male Group award and the Speer Family being our first Mixed Group. The Oak Ridge Boys were the first winners of the Album of the Year and the Album Jacket of the Year awards. The best Instrumentalist was Dwayne Friend and the favorite D.J. was J. G. Whitfield. The Florida Boys were the first gospel group to have a nationally syndicated television program. It was called The Gospel Singing Jubilee and the 1969 win was the first of seven during the category's 11 year run. Finally, the very first Song of the Year was "Jesus is Coming Soon" by R. E. Winsett.
- Artist of the Year (from 1981 to present)
- New Artist of the Year (from 1988 to present)
- Song of the Year (from 1969 to present)
- Rap Album & Song of the Year (from 1991 to present)
- Rock Album & Song of the Year (from 1988 to present)
- Contemporary Rock Album & Song of the Year (from 2004 to present)
- Pop / Contemporary Album & Song of the Year (from 1976 to present)
- Inspirational Album & Song of the Year (from 1976 to present)
- Southern Gospel Album & Song of the Year (from 1976 to present)
- Country Album & Song of the Year (from 1988 to present)
- Bluegrass Album & Song of the Year (from 1998 to present)
- Praise & Worship Album & Worship Song of the Year (from 1981 to present)
- Traditional Gospel Album & Song of the Year (from 1981 to present)
Retired Dove Award CategoriesThose gone but not forgotten...
The 2011 Dove Awards saw winners in 38 categories; a big step up from the original 11. In the time from 1969, several categories have come and gone. Those categories that are no longer awarded are:
- Album by a Secular Artist (1975 - 1986)
- Album of the Year (1969 - 1975)
- Album Jacket was honored only one time, in 1969, for It's Happening by the Oak Ridge Boys.
- Associate Membership Award (1974 - 1978) - The Blackwood Brothers won this category 3 times out of the 5 years it was honored.
- Backliner Notes, Cover Photo or Cover Art and Graphic Layout and Design (1970 - 1980)
- D.J. Of the Year (1969 - 1978) Sid Hughes won this award more than any other D.J. with 4 wins.
- Enhanced CD of the Year (1998 - 2002) There were no winners in 2001 & 2002 due to an insufficient amount of entries.
- Female Vocalist of the Year (1969 - 2012) Sandy Patti won the award 11 years in a row, making her the most popular female artist in the history of the genre.
- Group of the Year (1981 - 2012) Casting Crowns took home Group of the Year six times, making them the most popular group in Christian music.
- Hard Music Album and Recorded Song of the Year (1989 - 2003)
- Inspirational Black Gospel Album (1981 - 1983)
- Instrumentalist (1969 - 1986) Dino Kartsonakis won this award more than any other artist with 6 wins.
- Male Group of the Year (1969 - 1980) - The Imperials won this award more than any other group with 5 wins.
- Male Vocalist of the Year (1969 - 2012) Steven Curtis Chapman and James Blackwood each won this award seven times.
- Mixed Group of the Year (1969 - 1980) - The Speer Family won this award more than any other group with wins.
- Modern Rock Album and Recorded Song of the Year (1996 - 2005)
- Most Promising New Gospel Talent (1970 - 1973)
- Musical Album (1981 - 1995)
- Soul/Black Gospel Album (1977 - 1980)
- Urban Album & Song of the Year (1996 - 2012) and Contemporary Gospel Album & Song of the Year (from 1981 to 2012) were combined in 2013 to form Contemporary Gospel/Urban Album of the Year.
The Music of the DovesFor a few years, compilation CDs were released after each awards ceremony, highlighting the "Best of the Doves," but the labels discontinued the practice after 2004.