By ALLISON POND
Gladys Knight won the Inspirational Album of the Year Award for her album “Many Different Roads” Wednesday night at the second annual PEARL awards ceremony in Salt Lake City.
The PEARL awards, presented each year by the Faith Centered Music Association (FCMA), are LDS music awards for excellence in faith-centered music.
Other winners included Felicia Sorenson, Kurt Bestor, Lex de Azevedo, Enoch Train and Kenneth Cope, who came away with five awards for his album “Songs from Eden’s Garden.”
Cope and Enoch Train performed at the awards ceremony, along with Peter Breinholt, The Goodman Family, the cast of “The Ark” and Utah Valley Children’s Choir.
FCMA is a non-profit organization created in 1997, said Kathleen Hill, secretary to Jeff Simpson, president of Excel Entertainment and co-founder of FCMA.
Together with Stacy Peters, Simpson created the FCMA in an effort to increase the quality of LDS contemporary music, Hill said.
The FCMA membership consists of LDS musicians and industry leaders, said Kevin Elzey, a press agent for FCMA.
“FCMA members vote on the PEARL awards. It’s similar to the Academy Awards,” Elzey said. “The people voting are actually the peers of the artists.”
“There are three classifications of membership,” Hill said. “The members of the voting classification have enough credits on commercially-released albums to qualify.”
The other classes are professionals and associates, she said. Members of any classification can submit albums for nomination, she said.
BYU students have varied opinions about LDS contemporary music.
“I think they need to expand their variety with more styles. Their music is all mellow. It all sounds the same,” said Joel Shumway, 21, a sophomore from Mesa, Ariz. who has not declared a major. “It’s like they’re limited. They have to stay in these boundaries — but they’ve worked the boundaries way too much.”
Megan McLean, 22, a first year law student from Heber is the daughter of LDS musician Michael McLean. She said contemporary LDS music is evolving to a higher standard and becoming more competitive with other contemporary Christian music. She says it is a trend that needs to continue.
“There’s a lot of crap out there that’s packaged so brilliantly that we buy it and we love it, and it makes us question our values. The problem with LDS contemporary music is that we tell the truth, but we tell it poorly. The standard needs to raise so we tell truth brilliantly, passionately, purely,” she said.
Megan also said the PEARL awards are a good thing.
“Anything that encourages the edification of the spirit and the soul and the industry is good. We need to understand that there is a difference between what’s quality and what’s not, as well as there is a difference between what’s true and what’s not true,” she said.