Cedarville students help at Dove Awards

Cedarville University Worship students Megan Newsted (left) and Laura Skaggs take a break from their busy day at the GMA Dove Awards. Newsted and Skaggs are part of a select group of student volunteers chosen by the GMA Academy to volunteer at the ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

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Cedarville University Worship students Megan Newsted (left) and Laura Skaggs take a break from their busy day at the GMA Dove Awards. Newsted and Skaggs are part of a select group of student volunteers chosen by the GMA Academy to volunteer at the ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

‘The GMA knew about our worship program.’

Nine Worship students from Cedarville University recently had the opportunity to volunteer at the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards held on Oct. 17, at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville.

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The awards were started in 1970 to honor the best of Christian music. The awards ceremony celebrates musical diversity, presenting awards to artists representing modern rock, rap, hip-hop, pop, worship, southern gospel, urban, bluegrass and country.

The two-day experience was made possible through the GMA Academy, a group of musicians and industry professionals whose mission is to expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music.

“The GMA knew about our worship program and thought our students would be good candidates to participate in the GMA Academy. So we were in a select group of schools asked to join the program. Conversations with the leadership led to the opportunity for our students to serve at the Dove Awards,” said Roger O’Neel, assistant chairman and associate professor of worship at Cedarville.

O’Neel said was an ideal opportunity for students in the Cedarville Worship program, which is a multidisciplinary degree that involves classes in music, worship, Bible and other fields related to worship ministry.

“The experience was very beneficial to the students for many reasons. They were able to observe the planning and execution needed to pull off a major awards ceremony which was nationally televised. They were able to interface and learn from the professionals who were leading the organization of the event. They were also able to meet and host musicians, actors, and celebrities who were presenting, performing or receiving awards,” Dr. Roger O’Neel.

O’Neel said that many of Cedarville’s worship students have the goal of becoming worship leaders in churches and that planning and leading worship services on a weekly basis involves some of the same type of planning and administration involved in the Dove Awards, just on a much smaller scale.

Worship student Cole Tague said that he thought that his experience volunteering at the awards was the applicable experience he needed in order to step fully into his calling. “Worship is so much more than just playing and singing the right notes. If you are successfully “leading” worship, you are empowering all of those around you, whether they are musicians or not, to be worship leaders in their own way. This is what “interning” has helped me realize,” said Tague.

Other Cedarville Worship students such as Laura Skaggs said that they are leaning more toward a career in music rather than church work. “I really benefited from the Dove Awards, as I got a glimpse into the Christian music industry. This is an industry I’d actually love to be a part of, so seeing the people who are a part of it and what they do up close was really interesting to me.”

More than that students said it was a memorable experience that they will not soon forget.

“I got the opportunity to meet so many big names in the Christian music industry, and it’s an opportunity that I’d love to have again, but will look back on and cherish for a long time,” said Worship student, Megan Newsted. Newsted said that during her time at the Dove Awards she was personal assistant to artists, Lauren Daigle, Jordan Feliz, Matt Maher and Malcolm Hawker.

Dr. O’Neel said that he hopes that Cedarville will continue its relationship with the GMA Academy in the future. “This particular event was just a two-day event. However, we hope that relationship between the GMA and our students developed at this event will result in future opportunities for our students.

Contact this contributing writer at EricaHarrah@woh.rr.com.

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