By Scott L. Miley, Herald Bulletin Associate Features Editor
Sidewalk Prophets know how to please a crowd when they sing Christian pop at concerts across the nation.
Now, they’d like fans to reciprocate to help the band win a Dove Award.
The group, including Anderson University grads Ben McDonald and Dave Frey, are vying for New Artist of the Year.
Fans can vote — twice — for the New Artist category, by texting or going online. Fans can text DOVE SIDEWALK to 72468 and then go to www.gmclife.com/fanvoting. Voting closes April 20.
The 41st annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards will be presented April 21 in Nashville. The show will air April 25 on GMC. Fans can vote in two categories: artist of the year and new artist of the year.
Sidewalk Prophets has also been nominated for best pop/contemporary album for their debut “These Simple Truths.”
Sidewalk Prophets sing of salvation through Jesus Christ. They take the message seriously but have a lot of fun in concert and through their use of Web site videos and other technology.
The band was started in 2001 by Ben McDonald, of Alma, Mich., and Dave Frey, of Terre Haute, who met at the fourth floor of Smith Hall at Anderson University. The two met began writing songs.
The band moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2007 and signed its first major record deal with Word/Warner Bros. in 2009.
On Friday, Ben McDonald took a moment to answer questions about the band’s quest.
Q. Sidewalk Prophets effectively use all forms of technology. Do all bands need to do that now in order to stay in touch with fans?
McDonald: “Technology has been an awesome tool for bands. We’ve actually been fortunate enough to spend our entire eight years as a band in a time that social media has become essential.
“From the time we started at Anderson University we’ve been utilizing things like our Web site, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter to keep in touch with fans. For us, it gives us a platform to share our hearts but, more importantly, gives us a portal in which we can actively communicate with friends we have made over the year. The people we meet are what makes being a band worth all the work and having the internet just ensures that we can stay in touch.”
Q. How did you choose to attend Anderson University?
McDonald: I’m not entirely sure how I ended up at AU other than God kept on closing doors and AU was the one he left open. When I decided to go to school, all I wanted to do was be in a band — Anderson has a rich history of musicians and artists and a great music business program which also made the choice a little easier.
Q. Dave Frey considered being an English teacher, which was worked well for writing songs. Was there another path you considered, career-wise?
McDonald: “Being in a band is always what I’ve wanted to do so there really hasn’t been another option for me.”
Q. Any a-ha moments at Anderson University when you realized this performing thing is going to work?
McDonald: “We used to lead worship for chapel at Anderson and this was where we discovered a love for hearing voices worship together. It’s not really an a-ha moment but a moment where God really spoke to our hearts and gave us direction for the ministry of Sidewalk Prophets.
“One time that stands out is a festival that happened on campus and because of weather everything got moved inside. We also had our time slot moved to the last time slot which we thought was a bad thing.
“We waited around all day for our time slot and when we showed up, all of Byrum Hall was packed out. It was a memorable moment having the support of the student body. Moments like those are the kind that keep you pressing on.”
Q, How does faith play into all this for you? Is it just a source for lyrics or does it guide every hour?
McDonald: “Faith is a crazy concept but we’ve been able to experience firsthand that faith and perseverance through Jesus Christ is a real thing.
“Over eight years we’ve had an amazing journey full of ups and downs. There were moments when we experienced extreme joy and moments when we wanted to walk away and be done. It was faith that kept us moving through periods of doubt and fear and when you look back on those moments, you can really see how God was moving all the while.
Q. What would a Dove Award mean to you, the band, Anderson University — to be in the same league as other locals (i.e. Sandi Patty, Bill and Gloria Gaithers, Steven Curtis Chapman) who have won?
McDonald: “For us, these awards are just affirmation that we’ve been following God in the right direction all these years. I think a lot of people think an award like this might be the pinnacle of your career but for us we hope and pray that it’s just motivation to keep working hard to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
How to vote for Sidewalk Prophets in the Dove Award category of New Artist of the Year.
Fans can vote twice:
1. Text DOVE SIDEWALK to 72648
2. Go to www.gmclife.com/fanvoting
Voting ends April 20.
The band’s Web site is www.sidewalkprophets.com which has a link to voting.