The Gospel Countdown

(For a complete list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)

The countdown to Music's Biggest Night is the time for which most musicians live. That period when things start to happen — increased record and concert ticket sales and more media presence — all because of two words that are affixed to that artist's project: GRAMMY nominee.

It's no secret that garnering a nomination can change lives, sometimes from gold to platinum. It's rarefied air, and surely something no artist takes for granted — having their name announced alongside a group of their peers and hoping to be selected among the elite in their genre.

And most artists wouldn't have it any other way.

This year the Gospel Field includes nominations in the following categories: Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance, Best Gospel Song, Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, Best Gospel Album, and Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.

This year will feature some incredible races in each category, starting with Best Gospel Song where GRAMMY winners Kirk Franklin ("Hello Fear"), Mary Mary ("Sitting With Me") and Donald Lawrence ("Spiritual"), along with Richard Smallwood ("Trust Me") and Canton Jones ("Window") will go head-to-head in one of two songwriting categories.

The other song category, which houses Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, features Laura Story ("Blessings"), Jamie Grace with Tobymac ("Hold Me"), Chris Tomlin ("I Lift My Hands"), Matthew West ("Strong Enough"), and Brandon Heath ("Your Love").

Tomlin and Heath are also nominated for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance, along with Natalie Grant for "Alive (Mary Magdalene)," Le'Andria Johnson for "Jesus" and Steven Curtis Chapman for "Do Everything."

The nominees for Best Gospel Album include Kim Burrell (The Love Album), Andraé Crouch (The Journey), Franklin (Hello Fear), Mary Mary (Something Big), and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 (Angel & Chanelle Deluxe Edition), while the Best Contemporary Christian Music Album category is intense, featuring multiple nominees Tomlin and Heath, alongside Leeland, Mandisa, Gungor, and Royal Tailor.

With still a few weeks to go before the GRAMMYs take place on Feb. 12, 2012, two months to go, it's safe to say the races are close. They will all come down to the wire, making for an incredibly exciting GRAMMY night.

Who are some of your favorites to win? Were there any surprises regarding the nominees? Let us know your thoughts below.

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