The people have spoken: Australia's favourite Christian music artists

Australia’s favourite Christian music artist this year has been decided: For King and Country.

The Australian Artist of the Year Award is part of the 2022 People’s Choice Music Awards. Each year nominees are drawn from the top five artists most played on Christian radio in the past 12 months. The awards are divided into two categories: Australian and international Christian music artists. Thousands of votes were received to determine this year’s winners.

Lauren Daigle took out the International Artist of the Year and Brooke Ligertwood won New Zealand Artist of the Year.

The People’s Choice Music Awards are organised by Christian Media and Arts Australia (CMAA). The winners were announced at an official awards ceremony, held at Mantra on View on the Gold Coast on 13 September, alongside the 2022 CMAA Excellence in Media Awards. Over 200 Christian media and Arts professionals attended the event.

Chris Sebastian performs at the 2022 CMAA Excellence in Media Awards ceremony

Chris Sebastian performs at the 2022 CMAA Excellence in Media Awards ceremony

Aussie singer/songwriter Chris Sebastian, winner of The Voice 2020, performed at the ceremony with Melbourne singer and semifinalist in The Voice Australia, Fatai.

The pair began the evening with a perfect duet of the John Farnham classic You’re the Voice – a fitting anthem for Australia’s Christian media and Arts community.

Following the music awards presentation, Chris Sebastian wowed the crowd with his rendition of International Artist of the Year, Lauren Daigle’s hit You Say.

The ceremony kicked off a landmark media and Arts conference for CMAA. After two years of gathering online due to Covid, CONNECT22 was CMAA’s first hybrid conference, with people gathered both in person and via livestream to explore this year’s theme of “truth, goodness, beauty” from 13-15 September.

An array of Excellence in Media Awards were presented at the ceremony, covering a range of categories in radio, digital media, film, TV, sales, fundraising, innovation, community impact and more. Three Legacy Awards were presented to Australians who had committed their lives to sharing their faith through media and the Arts.

“Australia needs you right now … We’ve got to speak out.” – Gary (Tex) Houston

Legacy Award recipient Gary (Tex) Houston, video producer and mission worker, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to media.

“Australia needs you right now,” he told the audience. “We’re at a crisis point with our morals and values, and our lack of understanding about where to get them … We’ve got to speak out.”

Houston has certainly led by example. After his dramatic conversion to Christianity, five years into his career a highly successful musician, he has arguably produced more videos for the Christian music market than any other individual, as well as being heavily involved in mission work.

David Holmes received a Legacy Award for outstanding contribution to the Arts, after 40 years of playing music and being involved in ministry. His career has spanned over 400 album projects, including recording and co-writing with Darlene Zschech, and even accompanying her at worship event for the Pope. Holmes has also performed and recorded with countless other Christian artists, including Steve Grace, Geoff Bullock, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Michael W. Smith and Colin Buchanan.

Holmes shared that after committing his life to Christ at age 18, he decided that “whatever gift, whatever level of resource I’ve been given, I’m going to commit that to expressing my journey of faith.

“Of course, you can’t do that by yourself,” he added, paying particular honour to his wife of 32 years, Margie. “None of us respond to the call that we have on our lives as a solo artist, as a solo act. All of the award winners tonight have a team of people behind them that support and encourage them, help create the vision and help facilitate [so they can] speak it out.”

Fatai sings at the 2022 CMAA Excellence in Media Awards ceremony

Fatai sings at the 2022 CMAA Excellence in Media Awards ceremony

The third Legacy Award, for outstanding contribution to media, was awarded to an entire family – the Daniel family, who have so far committed 45 years to community radio. Brothers Terry, Richard and Glenn Daniel began a home-grown radio station 2DD in their bedrooms as children, drilling holes through the floor to run cables into their makeshift studios. Since Glenn’s death in 2021, the family has carried on this legacy with Glenn’s son Mark and Richard’s daughter Mel also working in radio.

The MVP Award for remarkable contribution went to Alan Martin from Positive Media and Laurene McClymont from Adelaide radio station 1079 Life. Mary Argall from Positive Media received this year’s Emerging Talent Award.

CMAA CEO Nathan Brown presented two Special Awards to Phil Edwards, who spent 10 years as the previous Chairman for CMAA, and to CBM for 10 years of partnership with CMAA and Christian radio stations.

An array of other Excellence in Media Awards were presented for compelling content across different media formats.

The ceremony set the stage for attendees to continue the journey into “truth, goodness and beauty” over the next two days of the CONNECT 22 conference.