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The Big Heart of Little Willie Wynn

Written by Staff on February 24, 2015 – 11:35 am -

Willie Wynn

Willie Wynn

By Dixie Phillips

Little Willie Wynn is commonly known in gospel music as the man with a million friends. After interviewing him on the telephone I can see why. His gentle warmth and down home personality makes you feel like you’ve known him your whole life.

Recording artist, Woody Wright, traveled and sang with Willie for several years. He had these kind words to say, “Willie is my mentor. My dad passed away in 1979. Willie broke the news to me while we were on the road. I consider him my ‘stand-in’ father. He is my absolute best friend. There is not a more influential figure in my life. I owe my career to him. I often tell him, if he had not given me my first road job in the music field, I would have probably gone to college and become a doctor or a lawyer.”

Willie Wynn and Woody Wright

Willie Wynn and Woody Wright

Southern gospel historians consider Willie a legend in gospel music. His story of humble beginnings and then achieving the pinnacle of success so few artists ever experience is the stuff movies are made of. It’s sheer inspiration and should encourage every child who has a dream of singing for the Lord.

Willie was born the seventh child of Cyrus Wynn and Allie Belle Lunsford Wynn in Moultrie, Georgia. He was raised by a single mother on 173-acre farm with his six brothers and one sister. Willie said, “When my father left, my dear mother poured her life into us kids. She loved us and we loved her. All of us helped with chores around the farm.”

Willie learned a tremendous work ethic in the cotton fields of south Georgia with his close-knit family, but he also learned he loved music. “My brothers and I would work in the fields and we always had a dinner break. While we ate I listened to the beautiful music of the Statesmen, Blackwood Brothers, and the LeFevres. Nobody ever taught me parts, but I could hear them all. They came easy to me. It was a gift from God.”

image003God had His hand on Willie and when he was 14 at Hopewell Baptist Church, he gave his heart to the Lord and was baptized. The young man also knew he was supposed to sing gospel music. “From as far back as I can remember, I felt a call from God to sing for Him. I can’t really explain it. I just knew I was to sing tenor in a gospel male quartet.”

Willie joined a quartet when he was still a teenager and sang with the Happy Four regularly on a local radio station. The group was well received and their fan base kept growing around Georgia. When he got in high school, he sang with the FFA quartet. “I just knew I had to continue pursuing my dream. In my heart I believed I would one day sing with the Statesmen.”

07-SandiWillieHallOfFameWhile Willie was honing his musical talent, a man moved to Moultrie from Atlanta. He shared Willie’s dream and wanted to start a gospel quartet of his own. “We tried to round up a few singers, but then the guy moved back to Atlanta. I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve my goal, but then the same fellow kept calling me and inviting me to move to Atlanta. When the time was right, I moved there and got a job in a bookbindery. After working for about a year Denver Crumpler, the Statesmen’s tenor singer, passed away. They were looking for someone to fill his position. I went to the Briarcliff Hotel in Atlanta to audition. I knew all their songs and had a great time singing for them. There was one more fellow after me to try out—Rosie Rozell. Even though they hired him, I still felt in my heart I would one day sing with the Statesmen.”

Even though Willie didn’t get the tenor position, Jake Hess recognized the young man’s talent. When some of the members of Wally Fowler’s backup quartet for his All Night Singing asked if anyone knew of a good tenor singer, Jake Hess suggested they contact Willie. The group didn’t waste a minute. They drove to Willie’s house around 11:00 p.m. and convinced him to come down to Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium. “Even though I wasn’t feeling the best, I threw on my coat and went with them. I sang all the songs and was hired on the spot. Eventually the group was named The Oak Ridge Quartet.”

Lou Hildreth Award Presented to Willie Wynn by Jonathan Edwards

Lou Hildreth Award Presented to Willie Wynn by Jonathan Edwards

Warner Brothers was the Quartet’s record label. They suggested the group change their name to the Oak Ridge Boys. The guys all agreed. At this time the group consisted of Willie Wynn, tenor singer; Smitty Gatlin, lead singer; Ron Page, baritone singer; Herman Harper, bass singer; and Tommy Fairchild, pianist. They were noted for being on the cutting edge of gospel music with a progressive country sound.

It was during this time the fans fell in love with the skinny Georgia boy with his smooth tenor voice. At every concert the Oaks introduced him, “Make welcome Little Willie Wynn!” The crowd went wild and the nickname stuck. All 116 pounds of “Little Willie Wynn” sang his way into the hearts of his fans with songs like: “Jesus is Coming Soon,” “Mama’s Last Amen,” “King Jesus,” “After All,” “My God Is Real,” “Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing,” “The Grass Is Greener on the Other Side,” “After Calvary,” and “Little Is Much.”

Willie Wynn Bash at Creekside 204

Willie Wynn Bash at Creekside 204

The Oaks’ popularity skyrocketed. Invitations came for them to sing on the Porter Wagoner Show, the Johnny Carson Show, the Merv Griffin Show, and they regularly appeared on the Johnny Cash Show. They were invited to make a guest appearance in the movie ‘Sing a Song for Heaven’s Sake’. The Oaks received international invitations and performed two tours in Sweden. During this time they gained even broader audience appeal and recognition. They received several Dove Awards and even a Grammy Award. They were in more demand for television appearances than ever before. Willie and the Oaks were rated as one of the top gospel groups in the business.

Willie sang with the Oaks for 15 years and came off the road in 1973, to pursue a business venture and be closer to home. “I was offered a deal too good to refuse—an airplane business. What I didn’t see on the horizon was the severe fuel crunch. It didn’t go as I had hoped.”

The next year, Hovie Lister called and invited him to sing with the Statesmen. “I knew God had put that dream in my heart. I saw the prayers of that little boy from the cotton fields of Georgia come true that day.”

Creekside 2014

Creekside 2014

After recording a few albums and singing with the Statesmen, Willie formed another group—Willie Wynn and the Tennesseans. Group members included Elmer Cole, Dave Maddox, Woody Wright, and Michael Sykes. Willie said, “Even though we had great talent and recorded several records, we were never quite able to get the group off the ground.”

The Georgia farm boy wasn’t afraid of hard work. He decided to start another group—Sweetwater. Once again the roster was jam-packed with some talented singers: Darrell Holt, J.T. Hicks, Gary Clark, and later with Woody Wright and Michael Sykes. “Once again, we were blessed with great songs, arrangements, and talent, but we just couldn’t make it to the level we hoped to.”

Willie married the love of his life on Valentine’s Day 1991. He said, “My wife, Sandi, is a beautiful person and singer. She is the highlight of my life.”

Sandi and Willie received a phone call from Bill Gaither, inviting them to come to Alexandria, Indiana, and be part of a videotaping. Willie stated, “I cannot say enough good about Bill and Gloria. They have done more for the gospel music field than anyone I know. They have resurrected careers that have been dead longer than Hitler.”

Another important phone call came to the Wynn house in 2013. “Woody Wright called and insisted I record a new project—Willie Wynn & Friends. He actually wrote a song “The Oak Ridge Boys and Me,” especially for this project. If that wasn’t enough of a blessing, then the Oaks came to the studio and sang backup on that song with me.”

Not only did the Oaks come out to support Willie, but Bill Gaither and Ben Speer also sang backup. It’s plain to see Willie loves people and they love him back. His new project is proof of just how much folks treasure “the big heart of little Willie Wynn.”

WW Bash 3Willie Wynn & Friends also includes 11 new recordings of popular songs from Willie’s days with the Oak Ridge Boys and new versions of great hymns and classics. Ponder Sykes & Wright (who first sang together as members of Willie’s group, The Tennesseans) are featured on several songs, along with other former Tennesseans Elmer Cole and Dave Maddox. Bill Gaither, Ben Speer and Gene McDonald provide support vocals, as well as Willie’s great friends Darrell Holt, J.T. Hicks, and Gary Clark from the group Sweetwater. The musician crew is a ‘who’s who’ of some of Nashville finest players.

Woody Wright is quick to honor the man who helped him get his start in gospel music. “The November 3rd 2014, “Willie Wynn and Friends Bash” will be our fourth annual event. The first was the evening that Willie was inducted as an individual to the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. So every year since, we have assembled the former members of Willie’s groups (The Tennesseans and Sweetwater) to keep honoring Willie, who made it possible for dozens of wannabe Gospel singers get started.  Among those names are myself, Michael Sykes, David Ponder, Elmer Cole, and many other players and singers.”

Fans will love hearing Willie’s signature voice again. His huge heart shines through every song and his music guarantees to inspire his million friends and fans.

October 2014 SGNScoops Magazine

October 2014 SGNScoops Magazine

Willie also participated in a DVD/CD made in 2012 and 2013 with Scott Kramer and Woody Wright, Good News Music Radio. Willie said, “We are getting incredible number of inquiries about these projects. We are all very excited about them. Fans can purchase them at www.williewynn.com.”

Fans can connect on FaceBook with Willie and Sandi at www.facebook.com/WillieNSandiWynn or write them at LittleWillieWynn@aol.com.

 

Editor’s note: The November 3rd  2014 “Willie Wynn and Friends Bash” was part of the annual Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. For more information, visit http://www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com/

Written by Dixie Phillips

Published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in October 2014

For current issues of SGN Scoops digital magazine visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/

 

 


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Christian Country Female Artist of the Year

Written by Staff on February 24, 2015 – 10:33 am -

Christy Sutherland and Matt Dudney at the 2014 Diamond Awards

Christy Sutherland and Matt Dudney at the 2014 Diamond Awards

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The category for the  is defined as a full-time female Christian Country artist recording as a soloist or with a group.

On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Diamond Award Christian Country Female Artist of the Year was Christy Sutherland. Christy is an award-winning singer/songwriter who travels with her husband, Matt Dudney.

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Song of the Year

Written by Staff on February 19, 2015 – 2:33 pm -

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The category for the Song of the Year is defined as a song recorded by a full-time Southern, Country or Bluegrass Christian music group or artist, released nationally as a single during the eligibility period of February 2014 to January 2015.

On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winners of the 2014 Diamond Award Song of the Year were Karen Peck and New River for their hit song, “Revival.”

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Male Vocalist of the Year

Written by Staff on February 13, 2015 – 8:56 am -

2012 Diamond Awards. Gerald and Jason Crabb.small

2012 Diamond Awards. Gerald and Jason Crabb

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

We are following the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards by letting you know the definition of each category. Today’s category is the Male Vocalist of the Year. This is an award for those with a more traditional sound, as there is also a Christian Country category for male and female vocalists. The Male Artist of the Year must be a full-time male Southern Gospel artist recording as a soloist or with a group.

The 2014 winner of the Diamond Award Male Artist of the Year was a gentleman who is no stranger to awards from almost every Christian music award ceremony in the Country. The winner was Jason Crabb! Jason is not only a vocalist, he is also an actor. Jason headlines concerts as a soloist as well as touring with his group, the Crabb Family in their reunion tour.

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today!

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Duet of the Year

Written by Staff on February 5, 2015 – 12:00 pm -

Amanda and Aaron Crabb

Amanda and Aaron Crabb

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category.

This edition of the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards features the Duet of the Year.

The 2014 winners of the Diamond Award Duet of the Year were Aaron and Amanda Crabb. This young couple has won the hearts of listeners through their music and ministry and recently started a church plant in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

 

The 2015 Diamond Award Duet of the Year, as the name suggests, must be two vocalists and they must be full-time Gospel artists.

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorites today!

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Gospel Music Today For February 2 On SGNScoops.com

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on February 1, 2015 – 10:02 pm -

Gospel Music Today For February 2 2015

Gospel Music Today For February 2 2015

Shannon Knight of The Daryl Williams Trio is the guest on Gospel Music Today for the week of February 2. Ken and Jean Grady host southern gospel news and concert updates. The Feature Group is Goodman Revival, and Jean reviews  new recordings by The Troy Burns Family and Watts, Rowsey and Bean. An article from SGN Scoops digital magazine is the subject of this week’s News Notes and in the news this week is the January 1 baby for Anna Grace of High Road III. The show features exclusive video of Lineage of David, recorded by Gospel Music Today’s cameras at the Creekside Gospel Music Convention, in Pigeon Forge, TN, and a visit to the Gospel Music Today Archives for an exclusive concert video of The Collingsworth Family at Gospel Singing Time, in Owasso, OK.

The show is on KWHB TV47 in Oklahoma every Sunday at 4:30 PM, and on Roku on FFE TV Monday at 8:00 PM and AllNations TV Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Check local TV schedule for Beaumont, TX, Tyler, TX. Atlanta, TX, and Morrilton, AR. The current edition of Gospel Music Today is online now at the Gospel Music Today website, www.gospelmusictoday.com.


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The Road To The 2015 Diamond Awards: Quartet Of The Year

Written by Staff on January 29, 2015 – 1:55 pm -

Brian Free and Assurance

Brian Free and Assurance

As with our last category, the winner of the 2014 Quartet of the Year are known and loved by many, with their songs constantly moving to the top of the charts. Their latest hit was, “Say Amen,” a wonderful song of faith and encouragement.

Brian Free. courtesy of Craig Harris

Brian Free. courtesy of Craig Harris

TRADITIONAL QUARTET OF THE YEAR: A traditional male group, four vocalists featuring four-part harmony. Must be full-time Southern Gospel artists.

The 2014 Diamond Award winner of the Mixed Group Of The Year was Brian Free and Assurance (pictured).

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are open on the SGN Scoops website. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In

Bill Shivers, Mike Rogers, Jeremy Lile-Brian Free and Assurance. courtesy of Craig Harris

Bill Shivers, Mike Rogers, Jeremy Lile-Brian Free and Assurance. courtesy of Craig Harris

this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

 

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

 

 


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The Road To The 2015 Diamond Awards: Mixed Group Of The Year

Written by Staff on January 27, 2015 – 12:24 pm -

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

As we continue down the road to the 2015 Diamond Awards, we note that last year’s winner of this category won multiple awards in last year’s ceremony. This artist is a favorite with many, their songs consistently top the charts and their faces can be found in many issues of SGN Scoops as well as other Gospel music publications.

 

MIXED GROUP OF THE YEAR: A group of any number with male and female vocalists. Must be full-time Southern Gospel artists.

The 2014 Diamond Award winner of the Mixed Group Of The Year was Karen Peck and New River (pictured).

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are open on the SGN Scoops website. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. We are proud that the Diamond Awards are completely fan-driven from start to end!

At the end of the nomination period, the list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

 


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The Road To The 2015 Diamond Awards: The J.D. Sumner Living Legend Award

Written by Staff on January 22, 2015 – 10:53 am -

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

The prestigious Diamond Awards have a history of over 20 years, recognizing the best in Gospel Music from coast to coast. Many of today’s top artists have received Diamond nominations and awards, from Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver to the Booth Brothers to the Hoppers. We are pleased to salute Christian artists who strive to use their talent to the best of their ability and to God’s glory.

Ed ONeal. Living Legend. RY

Ed O’Neal. Living Legend 2014

The Diamond Awards began in 1991, hosted by Allen Smith and the Gospel Voice Magazine. The Awards continue today, hosted by Coastal Media Group and the SGN Scoops digital magazine.

The road to the 2015 Diamond Awards began on January 19, 2015, as the nomination polls opened on the SGN Scoops website. We invite you to watch this site as we continue down this road, introducing the 2014 winners and discussing each category.

Today’s Award: The J.D. Sumner Living Legend Award!

Defintion: A once-in-a-lifetime honor to recognize the living performer for whom the fans feel has made the greatest contribution to Southern Gospel music over a career spanning 25 years or more. Previous winners are not eligible.

The 2014 Diamond Award winner of the J.D. Sumner Award was Mr. Ed O’Neal of the Dixie Melody Boys (pictured).

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are open on the SGN Scoops website. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category.

The list of nominees will be posted, and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

 

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at  http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/


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2015 Diamond Award Nominations Begin January 19

Written by Staff on January 5, 2015 – 1:18 pm -

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch, Rob Patz and Jeff Hawes

Pigeon Forge, TN (January 5, 2015) – SGN Scoops and Coastal Media Group are pleased to begin the nomination process for the Diamond Awards on January 19, 2015. The Diamond Award winners are nominated by fans in each category, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. The field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

The 2015 Diamond Award nominations survey form will be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/

The Diamond Awards are presented during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention each year. This year’s awards will be presented on November 3rd, 2015 at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. For more information on the Creekside Gospel Music Convention, visit http://www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com/

Shown: Karen Peck and New River were big winners at the 2014 Diamond Awards. For more pictures, visit http://www.sgnscoops.net/


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