Ed Leonard, chairman of the board for the Nashville-based Gospel Music Association, called the move a chance to "shake things up" while continuing to "build community" for the awards show that had long showcased Nashville's role as a gospel music capital.
"Atlanta is a great place to go. There's lots of gospel down there. There are a lot of churches down there. It's another way to expose our music. And my hope is that we'll be back," said Leonard, who also is president of Christian label Daywind Records.
"Moving to Atlanta is a way to better embrace the black gospel community," Leonard said.RelatedDove Awards 2010
The announcement took many Nashville music industry leaders and convention officials by surprise.
"Shock and disappointment" was the terse reaction from Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau President Butch Spyridon when he learned of the decision Tuesday.
The move by the Doves follows a contract renewal with Atlanta-based GMC, a cable TV channel that has partnered with GMA to broadcast the Dove Awards for the past three years. The three-year contract was renewed for one additional year, although the move to Atlanta was not a specific condition of the extended agreement, Leonard said.
The city of Atlanta also has stepped forward as a partner in the event, although Leonard said the local government offered no financial incentives.
Many of this year's award winners, including bands and musicians such as Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin and Third Day, also are based in Atlanta.(2 of 2)
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