Improve The Favorite Songwriter Category In The Singing News Fan Awards

by | Mar 19, 2020 | Commentary & Observations

The top ten nominees for the 2020 Singing News Fan Awards in the Favorite Song category were announced yesterday. Those titles include:
“Alabama Mud” – Jason Cox/Tim Lovelace/Belinda Smith
“Be Saved” – Rodney Griffin/Nick Trammell
“Come Sunday Morning” – Kenna Turner West/Jason Cox
“Come to the Well” – Kenna Turner West/Jason Cox/Devin McGlamery
“Going There” – Scott Inman/Lee Black
“Keep Me Close” – Monty Lane Allen/Reba Rambo-McGuire/Tery Wilkins
“Shame On Me” – Michael Boggs/Jason Cox/Joseph Habedank
“The Healer Hasn’t Lost His Touch” – Jason Cox/Joseph Habedank/Tony Wood
“What Kind of Man” – Kenna Turner West/Jason Cox/Sue C. Smith
“You’ve Arrived” – Kenna Turner West/Sue C. Smith/Marcia Henry

Note that along with each song, I have listed the songwriters. You’ll see a few songwriters who are also well-known singers, but by and large, the bulk of the songwriting on the songs fans say they love the most are written by people who don’t often appear on a concert stage.

Jason Cox co-wrote six of the ten nominated songs. He also co-wrote six of the past twelve number one songs (as reported on the Singing News radio airplay chart)! Other songwriters with multiple nominations include Kenna Turner West with four, Sue C. Smith with two, and Joseph Habedank with two.

When we look at the Top Ten nominees in the Favorite Songwriter category, West made it as did Habedank. Cox and Smith, however, do not appear. (My vote was for Smith, by the way.)

Rodney Griffin who sings with Greater Vision has won Favorite Songwriter every year for the past two decades. Let me be clear that I’m not trying to diminish Griffin’s songwriting with what I am about to suggest. Griffin belongs in the conversation. His songs are recorded by multiple groups, and his name appears as a co-writer on one of the top ten songs this year.

It’s also clear to me, though, that if the Songwriter award actually went to the person who is involved in writing more of the favorite songs than anyone else in 2020, it should be Cox or perhaps West. The fans know their favorite songs and no one can argue with that, but it’s very clear that fans pay little attention to who WROTE their favorite song when it comes time to vote in the Favorite Songwriter category. The fans aren’t fickle so much as they are simply uninformed.

Ideally, I’d love to see Singing News change the category of Favorite Songwriter from a Fan Award to an Industry Award. Then the outcome would be determined by artists and others who earn a living from the industry like studio musicians, producers, radio DJs, etc. While they’re at it, Singing News could also move Radio Station to an Industry Award. How is a fan supposed to compare two radio stations that are hundreds of miles apart and make an informed vote? Maybe they can if they’re truckers, but otherwise, it’s likely they do what I do which is to just vote for a station in their area.

Some other categories that could be added to the Industry side of the ballot include Producer, Studio Musician, and Arranger/Orchestrator. Like songwriters, those are some other unsung heroes without whom very little music worth hearing would ever get made.

Of course, I don’t expect that to happen, but perhaps Singing News would at least consider making a slight tweak in how the Favorite Song is presented. It would be nice to call the songwriters up to the mic along with the artist who recorded the song. Let them be recognized on equal footing with the artist.

It’s just an idea.

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.


  1. Tony Watson

    What about a performing songwriter and a non-performing songwriter in separate categories?

    • David Bruce Murray

      I think Absolutely Gospel is still doing that, and it’s definitely a better alternative to just asking the fans.

      Getting people in the industry to vote would be better, though, given the fact that the fans have proven they don’t notice who is writing their favorite songs enough to vote for those songwriters. While they did move in that direction by voting for Kenna Turner West in addition to Dianne Wilkinson this time, Jason Cox failed to get enough votes to be included in the Top Ten. That says to me that the fans aren’t paying attention.

      For that matter, I wasn’t paying close enough attention. I do make an effort to keep up with these things, but I voted for Sue C. Smith. If I’d noticed how many top songs Cox was writing at the moment, I would have voted for him instead.

      • Tony Watson

        Wasn’t the industry vote tried with the SGMG Hearts Aflame awards back in the 90’s and it died a natural death? It would be interesting to see the industry votes on such things – such as with the player vote in Major League Baseball All-Stars. I’m not sure there’s enough interest to get enough participation though. (sorry, I just saw this reply when I looked at my WordPress site for the first time in…a long time).

        • David Bruce Murray

          I’m not sure about Hearts Aflame. I wasn’t paying attention in the 1990s. LOL

          They had industry categories in the NQC Music Awards that were presented in 2012 and 2013 while NQC and Singing News were having a spat. Those awards died because they made up and brought the Fan Awards back to NQC.

          Also, the nice thing about the songwriter category in the NQC Awards was no one voted on it at all! The winner was based on radio chart and sales data. Dianne Wilkinson won it both years. Jason Cox would likely win it now.

  2. Darrell

    “The fans aren’t paying attention” is the understatement of the day. Just look at the long winning streaks in some of the other categories and you will see that. It eould be nice if the voting wasn’t strictly done by the fans. Industry folks, IMO, would skew some of these catergories in a different, and good, direction if their votes would be tallied.


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