John Bazemore, AP
"You're only as strong as the people you're with and I'm with a great group of people," Jason told the Boot backstage, humbly sharing credit with his label, management, road crew and family. When asked how he planned to celebrate, he smiled and replied "I'm gonna kiss my wife then it's back out on the road. I've got a [concert] date tomorrow."
Jason rose to prominence in the Southern gospel community singing with his siblings as the Crabb Family before going solo and winning a Grammy with his self-titled 2009 album. The project earned Jason country fans with the hit single "Somebody Like Me." He's preparing to head into the studio with Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus to work on his next studio album.
"We're already starting to get songs together and saying 'What's it going to be?'" Jason says of working with Jay. "We got together and sang and it's gonna be a blast. I'm looking forward to working with him."
Jay, who began his career in Christian music as one half of the duo East to West, was among those on hand at the Doves to cheer on his favorite performers during the show at Atlanta's historic Fox Theater. "I'm so proud to be here," Jay told The Boot as he was heading into the venue accompanied by his friends the Martins -- siblings Jonathan, Judy and Joyce. Jay produced the Martins' Dove nominated album New Day. "They are some of the best singers I've ever worked with in the business and I'm so honored to be here tonight."
It was also a big night for family band the Isaacs, who won bluegrass recorded song of the year for "Mama's Teaching Angels How to Sing." "It's always a surprise because I'm one of those guys who rate everybody else above us," says Ben Isaacs. "To win something is such an honor. We're totally blessed to be able to cross-pollinate bluegrass music into the CMAs, ACMs and the Dove Awards, and to win something like this lets us know we're appreciated on the Christian side as well."
Sonya Isaacs, who co-wrote Martina McBride's emotional hit "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" about her mother's battle with breast cancer, also took home the Dove for country recorded song of the year for "Good Things Are Happening," recorded by Karen Peck & New River. Sonya co-wrote the tune with multiple award-winning writer-producer Wayne Haun.
"It was a huge surprise," Sonya says of winning for "Good Things Are Happening." "That's just an album cut. It wasn't a single or anything. Karen is great. Anytime we get a cut on her we know it's going to be great. My brother Ben is producing her new solo record."
This year's Doves were a landmark moment for Karen, marking her first wins after more than two decades in the industry. "Having a Dove was on my bucket list," she said backstage, "but I didn't think we would win. We were jumping up and down ... We've been together 21 years. We're living proof that some things don't happen overnight."
In a competitive race, the Dove Award for country album of the year went to Dreamin' Wide Awake by Doug Anderson, a member of Ernie Haase + Signature Sound who stepped out to record a country solo project.
The Dove Awards recognize the variety of music under the faith-based umbrella, honoring artists in more than 40 categories, including awards in rap/hip hop, contemporary gospel, worship and urban music. Following a three-hour pre-telecast show in the afternoon, comedian Chonda Pierce and actor David Mann hosted the Doves, which included performances by Mary Mary, The Isaacs, Danny Gokey, Mandisa, Yolanda Adams and others. Among the evening's highlights was a tribute to gospel legend Russ Faff performed by Donnie McClurkin, Jason Crabb and Wess Morgan. The Doves are set to air Tuesday night on the Gospel Music Channel.
Watch Jason's "Somebody Like Me" Video