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For Brian Courtney Wilson, the road to achieving top award nominations at the 41st annual Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards has been anything but easy.

On April 21, the gospel singer will head to the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., where he’ll compete for New Artist of the Year and Urban Recorded Song of the Year at the Dove Awards ceremony.

The University of Illinois graduate is especially grateful for the acknowledgment given, since his debut ‘Just Love’ failed to earn a Stellar Award nomination.

“We got passed over for the Stellar Awards, so you start to worry if anyone was paying attention,” he said.

“I’m certainly honored to be nominated, but we definitely want to win and have the No. 1 album and sell the most records.

“I’m not thinking about competition, but [whether we] did our very best to put ourselves in a position to do our best.”

‘Just Love’ was released last year, but the album has steadily risen on the charts, and another single will be released later this year.

“I feel great; it’s overwhelming,” Wilson said. “Really, vindication is not the right word. It just feels like confirmation for some of the choices that my family and I made to step out on faith.”

Some of those tough choices involved Wilson leaving his high-paying pharmaceutical sales gig to pursue a music career in Houston.

Luckily, he was quickly signed to Matthew Knowles‘s Music World imprint. Knowles, he said, has “been supportive and hasn’t tried to pigeonhole my message.”

Not only has his album ‘Just Love’ topped the CMTA charts for 10 weeks, but he’s standing firm at No. 10 on the Billboard Top Gospel Album chart as well.

Following in the footsteps of Mary Mary‘s crossover Urban Contemporary hit, ‘It’s the God in Me,’ Wilson’s new single, ‘Believe,’ will hit radio in the coming weeks. He wrote the song for a friend’s wedding, and it amassed 10,000 online hits when he was still an unknown.

On April 12, he will set sail on the Radio One sixth annual ‘One Love Gospel Cruise’ to perform alongside gospel music veterans such as Yolanda AdamsDonnie McClurkinFred Hammond and The Clark Sisters.

Meanwhile, the Dove Awards will air on the Gospel Music Channel on April 25 at 8 p.m. EST.

Though he won’t be performing at the awards show, Wilson says he’s hoping he gets to sit up front. Fans can vote for Wilson in the New Artist category by heading

In the meantime, Wilson’s is looking to become gospel’s next crossover star.

“When I’m in the studio, I am just hoping someone gets it. I think from an industry standpoint, they see the success of Kirk Franklin and Marvin Sapp and wanna duplicate that.”

And, if he’s lucky, a win at the Dove Awards will be just the start he needs.

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