Following a cancelled show in 2020 due to the global pandemic, fans returned in spades to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House for the 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards to celebrate the joy of simply being together. The night was worth the wait! @Matthew West flew solo for the first time, emceeing the evening’s ceremonies for the sixth time. While perennial favorites @for KING & COUNTRY, @Lauren Daigle and @Zach Williams all added trophies to their mantle, @Michael W. Smith, @CAIN and John Cooper (@Skillet) all walked away first-time winners.
In addition to the 10 trophies presented throughout the night, the 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards boasted two hours of show-stopping performances and one-of-a-kind collaborations. @Crowder opened the broadcast with a high-energy rendition of his No. 1 hit, “Good God Almighty.” Other notable moments included performances from new acts like @We The Kingdom, @Andrew Ripp and CAIN. Additionally, @Kari Jobe, @Cody Carnes, @Tasha Cobbs Leonard and @Elevation Worship’s Chris Brown took the stage for an all-star finale of “The Blessing.”
2021 K-LOVE Fan Award Winners
Artist of the Year: for KING & COUNTRY
After a Fan Awards hiatus in 2020, @for KING & COUNTRY reclaimed their Artist of the Year title for the first time since 2017. While the duo was still putting the finishing touches on their 2022 release, “What Are We Waiting For?” they continued to ride the wave of 2018’s “Burn The Ships,” which spawned four massive hits: “joy.” “God Only Knows,” “Burn The Ships” and “Amen.” Additionally, by the time the brothers were named Artist of the Year, their arena-ready plea for unity, “TOGETHER,” had already hit No. 1 ahead of their next highly anticipated studio effort.
Male Artist of the Year: Zach Williams
@Zach Williams won his first Male Artist of the Year honor in 2021, capping a series of significant milestones for the Arkansas native. His sophomore album, “Rescue Story,” produced a hit with the title-cut, as well as “Less Like Me” and “Heaven Help Me.” All of these excellent offerings, however, paled in comparison to the collection’s crown jewel, “There Was Jesus” — a duet with the legendary Dolly Parton.
Female Artist of the Year: Lauren Daigle
In 2021, @Lauren Daigle extended her run as Female Artist of the Year, earning the title five years in a row. While the unmatched impact of “You Say” continued to spearhead Daigle’s longevity, follow-up singles “Rescue,” “Look Up Child” and “Still Rolling Stones,” added fuel to the fire for the singer, who quickly emerged as one of Christian music’s finest vocalists and lyricists.
Group/Duo of the Year: for KING & COUNTRY
@for KING & COUNTRY continued to rule the Group/Duo category for a fifth non-consecutive year in 2021. Joel Smallbone accepted the award on the duo’s behalf, revealing that his brother, Luke, had undergone vocal chord surgery just a few days earlier. Always one to make his time behind the podium count, Smallbone left the audience — both inside the Grand Ole Opry House and in living rooms around the world — with words of encouragement surrounding the significance of faith, music and brotherhood.
Song of the Year: “There Was Jesus,” Zach Williams (feat. Dolly Parton)
When @Zach Williams accepted the trophy for Song of the Year in 2021 for his gigantic hit, “There Was Jesus,” Dolly Parton delighted fans when she made a special appearance via a pre-recorded video to congratulate Williams on the win and to thank him for inviting her to sing on the song. Williams performed the country-tinged track — one of his biggest radio singles to date — with Parton at the CMA Awards and again on her original Christmas television special. Moreover, Parton appeared with Williams in the official music video for the song.
Worship Song of the Year: “Waymaker,” Michael W. Smith
No one seemed more surprised than @Michael W. Smith himself as his name was called when the winner for Worship Song of the Year was announced in 2021. Smith stewarded epic worship anthem “Waymaker” literally around the world, turning the congregational-friendly single into a household hit. While he didn’t write the powerful track, he’s now famously associated with it thanks to the generous way he cared for the truth found in its lyrics.
Breakout Single: “Rise Up (Lazarus),” CAIN
@CAIN attended the K-LOVE Fan Awards for the first time in 2021, also earning a high-profile performance slot and their first Fan Award nominations that same year. The siblings emerged winners when fans chose their No. 1 debut, “Rise Up (Lazarus),” as Breakout Single of the Year. The trio’s evident shock and immense gratitude were obvious as they expressed their thanks from stage. Just two years later, the trio would find themselves hosting the two-hour show.
Sports Impact: Scott Drew
Fresh off winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, Baylor Bears head coach Scott Drew shared his story of wins and losses as he accepted the 2021 Sports Impact award. Tied as the Big 12’s longest-tenured head coach, the outspoken Christian comes from a family of coaches. His father was formerly the head coach at Valparaiso University, and his brother is a former NBA player and the current men’s basketball coach at Grand Canyon University.
Film/Television Impact: “The Chosen”
Director Dallas Jenkins and actor Jonathan Roumie were at the 2021 K-LOVE Fan Awards to accept the Film/Television Impact trophy on behalf of the cast and crew of “The Chosen,” the first multi-season series ever to be based on the life of Jesus. Entirely crowd-funded, “The Chosen” has welcomed partnerships with various Christian artists through the years and has become known for its beautiful and accurate portrayal of events told in the Bible.
Book Impact: “Awake & Alive To Truth,” John Cooper
During the pandemic, @Skillet frontman John Cooper wrote his first book in response to the chaos he saw unfolding in the world around him. Attempting to answer the burning questions Christians were asking in the wake of civil and political unrest, from beginning to end, Cooper sought to point readers back to the truth of Scripture, emphasizing that the answer to every question can be found in Jesus. Fans really resonated with the respected rocker’s point of view because they voted “Awake & Alive To Truth” the 2021 Book Impact recipient, marking Cooper’s first K-LOVE Fan Award win.
Don’t miss the 2023 K-LOVE Fan Awards Weekend, May 26-28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. Visit klovefanawards.com for more info.