NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER
December 3 - 9, 2000
Catholic Pop Music Honored in First Awards Shop
by JOSHUA MERCER Register Correspondent
WASHINGTON - Singer Dana Scallon and liturgical music composer Marty
Haugen dominated the first Unity Awards honoring the best Catholic music and
Scallon, the onetime candidate for president of Ireland who records
professionally as Dana, won or shared in seven awards, and Haugen won all four
awards for which he was nominated.
The awards ceremony, sponsored by the new United Catholic Music and Video
Association, was held Nov. 18 on the campus of The Catholic University of
The association was founded last year to support, encourage and promote he
development of all forms of Catholic-oriented Christian music and video,
including liturgical, praise and worship, contemporary, classical and
The group was the brainchild of Deacon Ronald Stein and his son, Phillip, who
helps manage Heartbeat Records, a Catholic recording company in Iowa. "We based
ourselves on the Gospel Music Association, which is a Protestant organization,
and their annual awards, the Dove Awards," Philip Stein told the Register.
He said the Unity Awards are designed to "shed light on the hundred of
Catholic artists who are not considered for Dove Awards because they are
Also, for large Catholic functions, dioceses and other Catholic institutions
often invite well-known 'Christian groups' who are not Catholic. Those groups
are well known, to a large extent, because they have been promoted by the Gospel
Through the Catholic association, Heartbeat, Gregorian Institute of America
and Oregon Catholic Press, have combined resources to promote Catholic artists,
especially within the Catholic community.
The Washington awards ceremony was the group's first major effort to do just
that. In all, 44 awards were handed out for individual achievements in music and
In addition, actress Gloria De Haven, in a special appearance during the
awards, presented three inspirational awards.
Two went to musicians Tony Melendez and Renee Bondi. Melendez was born
without arms and plays the guitar with his feet, and singer Bondi was paralyzed
from the neck down following an accident. The third award went to Priests for
Life founder Father Frank Pavone.
Dana won for best music video ("This Is My Body"), pop-contemporary song ("We
Are One Body"), pop-contemporary album ("Say Yes"), spoken-word album ("The
Rosary," with Father Kevin Scallon), ("We Are One Body"), female vocalist and
In accepting the best songwriter award, Dana said, "I share this with all of
the songwriters. The songs that we write are all from God . ... God is the
creator of everything we do that is good."
Haugen won for best musical ("Mass of Creation"), choral collection "Come and
Journey," with David Haas and Father Michael Joncas), liturgical song ("Shepherd
Me, O God") and liturgical album ("All Are Welcome").
Other multiple winners were:
Mariella Ness, best international broadcast album ("Holy One of Israel") and
best international artist.
Dents Grady, best country song ("Running Too Long") and best country album
("Running Too Long").
Franciscan Father Stan Fortuna best rap/hip-hop song ("Kum Ba Ya") and best
rap/hip-hop album ("SacroSong").
Shawn Forrest, best mode rock/alternative song ("Keep Your Eyes on Me") and
best new artist.
EWTN, best special event vide ("The Holy Father's Visit to Israel 2000") and
best religious TV program ("Life on the Rock").
The evening's highlight came when the band Ceili Rain was named the winner of
best rock album for its self-titled effort.
Group leader Bob Halligan vaulted from the front row of the auditorium onto
the stage and accepted his Unity Award with similar enthusiasm.
"My wife said to me, `Why don't you combine Irish music with rock 'n' roll
and write songs about God?" Halligan said in his acceptance speech. "I said,
`That's the dumbest idea I ever heard."' Then, looking upward, Halligan said,
"Not so dumb, eh, Boss?"
Many of the winners were not on hand to receive their awards. "It's testimony
that many of the winners here tonight are out doing Christian ministry," said
Haugen who performed "Shepherd Me, God," later during the ceremony.
The awards ceremony was taped by the EWTN cable channel for future broadcast.