Monday, August 10, 2009


Artist/Songwriter Shelly E. Johnson from Franklin, Tenn. and Jake Brothers from Indianapolis are among several aspiring artists and songwriters who were celebrated by music industry executives and leaders after winning multiple honors at the GMA Artist and Song of 2009 National Competition held last week in Nashville during GMA IMMERSE (, the Christian music industry’s premier training experience and talent competition.

The GMA Academy Artist & Song of 2009 National Competition is the Christian and gospel music community’s premier talent competition for unsigned artists and songwriters that has in recent years seen entrants like Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, Nichole Nordeman, BarlowGirl and American Idol 2007 winner Jordin Sparks go on to successful music careers. Fellow American Idol finalist and another former GMA competition winner Chris Sligh hosted this year’s competition finals. (To watch the Artist Finals which were broadast live at, visit

Hundreds of artist and songwriting contestants from all over the United States and Canada competed for grand prizes which included a record development deal with Centricity Music, a “Disney Best of Show” award and performance slot at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World and a Compassion International ministry trip. Also at stake were GMA’s grand prize titles for Artist and Song 2009 and American Bible Society’s ABS Scripture Song Awards which offered a chance for the winning songs produced by a major Christian music recording label.

At the conclusion of the four-day competition held in conjunction with GMA IMMERSE, Shelly E. Johnson was named GMA’s Artist Solo 2009 for contestants in the 13-24 age category. Centricity Music ( also chose 24-year-old Johnson to receive its recording development deal. Centricity Music, an independent label distributed worldwide by Word Distribution and whose artists include Downhere, Andrew Peterson, Circleslide (previous GMA winner), and Jaime Jamgochian. Johnson’s deal with Centricity will include music and career advice and council, song consultation, demo recordings, and the potential for expansion into an exclusive recording or publishing contract. This was Johnson’s second year in the GMA competition. In 2008, she won songwriting awards which included GMA Song of 2008 for “The Power of the Cross,” the song she performed at the Artist Finals this year.

Jake Brothers, from Indianapolis, Ind., performed as both as solo artist and as the Jake Brothers Band and won in both cases. Jake Brothers Band was chosen as GMA’s Band winner. As a solo artist, Brothers was runner up to Jared Salte of Alberta, Canada in GMA’s Artist Solo 2009 for contestants in the age category 25 and up. He was also the recipient of GMA’s “Disney's Night of Joy Best of Show Award,” which means Brothers will perform at Night of Joy at Walt Disney World (, one of the top Christian music events in the country. Brothers will receive a performance slot at the "Night of Joy” event at the Walt Disney World® Resort, September 11-12, 2009 in Florida, performing on the same stage as Jars of Clay, Chris Tomlin, P.O.D., Superchick, Newsboys, Kutless, Leeland and Flyleaf. The prize also includes a vacation package at Disney World.

Holly Starr, from Quincy, Wash., was recognized for the ministry emphasis of her music by Compassion International (, a Christian child advocacy organization which helps more than one million children in 24 countries. Compassion named her their recipient of the Music & Ministry Experience, an all-expense paid ministry trip to a Compassion International destination.

The Gospel Music Channel (, the 24-hour, all music entertainment network devoted to the uplifting, inspiring and diverse music that is Gospel, was a competition sponsor for the first time this year, choosing Worship Jazz band TC Carter and the Musical Sensations from Martinsville, Virg., as its winner. TC Carter will appear on GMC’s “Joyful Noise,” hosted by Christine Pullara and be featured with its own artist page on

In addition these artists, winners were also honored in several categories defined by musical style and/or age. These winners, too, receive prizes including personal consultation meetings with music industry executives, free tuition to future GMA events, and several other product prizes. The complete list of winners for both the Artist and Song of 2009 are:

GMA Vocal One (ages 13-26)
Winner – Shelly E. Johnson, Franklin, Tenn.,
Runner-up – Matt Knutson, Longview, Texas,

GMA Vocal Two (ages 27 and up)
Winner – Jared Salte, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Runner-up – Jake Brothers, Indianapolis, Ind.,

GMA Band
Winner – Jake Brothers Band, Indianapolis, Ind.,
Runner-up – T.C. Carter and the Musical Sensations, Martinsville, Vir.

GMA Group/Duet
Winner -- Denwyler, Spokane, Wash., and
Runner-up – Noelle, Raleigh, N.C.,

GMA Amateur Class
“Solid Rock” by Tracey Barker, Round Rock, Texas

GMA Semi-Pro Class
“She Said” by Bev Herrema, Highland Ranch, Colo.

ABS Amateur Class
“Wait,” by Joshua Johnson, Los Angeles,

ABS Semi-Pro Class
“Bless the Memories” by Marc Arthur Pierre-Louis, Charlotte, N.C.,

Jake Brothers, Indianapolis, Ind.,

Shelly E. Johnson, Franklin, Tenn.,

Holly Starr, Quincy, Wash.,

TC Carter and the Musical Sensations, Martinsville, Vir.

More than 600 Christian artists, songwriters, worship leaders – and those that want to be someday – gathered last week in Nashville to IMMERSE in a four-day event presented by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) that is the Christian music industry’s premier training experience and talent competition. The event, held on the campus of Belmont University, offered unparalleled training, professional and personal feedback, one-of-a-kind concerts and a sense of community to uniquely equip creative Christians to impact culture through music both in and out of the church.

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