Winning the International Country Gospel Music Association’s Female Horizon Artist of the Year last year caught Decatur’s Joy Roberts by surprise.
“This may be the only award I ever win,” she said then. “But you know, it’s one more thing checked off my bucket list – one more dream lived out.”
Following this year’s ICGMA awards convention in West Plains, Mo., she can check off yet another item on that list.
Earlier this month, Roberts was named the ICGMA Female Vocalist of the year.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’m still trying to process it.”
Like last year, Roberts was distracted backstage when the win was announced.
Last year she was preparing to present an award. This year, she was preparing to perform, repeating the first few lines of her song over and over.
“A good friend, Mary Fay Jackson, who owns a Christian TV network in Gainesville, was the one presenting the award,” Roberts said. “All of a sudden you can just hear her screaming my name into the microphone, then I’m being rushed on stage and people are telling me I had won the award.”
After that, Roberts said everything was in slow motion.
“There’s no telling what I said,” she said. “Then they presented one more award, and then I was up to perform. Emotions were all over the place.”
Every June, the ICGMA sends a blank nomination ballot to its 9,000 members, who then send back names. Organizers compile a ballot with the top 10 nominees and send it back out to the membership to vote.
The top five are recognized at the convention before a winner is named.
“I was up against people who have hits on the radio,” Roberts said. “Well-known country gospel music singers have come up through the ranks of the ICGMA. To be the one that won is amazing.”
Roberts’ husband, Cotton, and their two granddaughters attended the convention with her.
“It was such a thrill to have them there,” she said. “The girls got to dress up – that’s always fun for them.”
Adding to the award’s value is the redemption she feels after last year’s win, which placed high expectations on her.
“The first award was so special to me. But with that award, people start watching you, expecting more of you,” Roberts said. “I’m so glad I was able to step up to the next level.”
But more than anything, Roberts is grateful for the opportunity to help others connect spiritually.
“Singing is my contribution,” she said. “Some people preach; I sing to encourage people to look to something bigger than their circumstances. Singing is a three-minute sermon with a tune. I am so incredibly humbled to be able to bless people that way.”