Lee Alumni Duren And Nitz Win GMA Dove Award

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - by Charity Parris, Lee University
Cliff Duren
Cliff Duren

Lee University alumni Cliff Duren and Phil Nitz have received a Gospel Music Association Dove award for musical/choral collection of the year for their work on “For The Sake Of Love.” 

“For the Sake of Love” is a short Easter musical written by Lee Black and published by Daywind Records. In addition to Mr. Duren and Mr. Nitz, Camp Kirkland and Steve Mauldin contributed to the project. 

“I still can’t believe I get to do this for a living, much less get an award for it,” said Mr. Duren. “I love going to the Dove Awards because of the unity I see across the room—Christian artists of all genres celebrating our great God together. Winning a Dove was completely unexpected!” 

Mr. Duren and Mr. Nitz arranged songs so they could be performed by choirs and orchestras. They used recordings of Mr. Black playing and singing his original songs to create the structure of each song, write the choral arrangement, and orchestrate that arrangement. 

Mr. Duren received a master’s degree in church music from Lee in 2004 and is currently the worship pastor at The Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill, Tn., a regional campus of Brentwood Baptist Church. This year, he wrote his first film score for the faith-based film “Champion” and orchestrated on the Michael English and Larnelle Harris 2017 album releases. 

Mr. Nitz contributed “Did The Angels Shout?” to the project, which is the final song of the album. He was commissioned by Daywind to arrange the song for choir, rhythm band, and orchestra, and he oversaw its production in the studio. 

According to Mr. Nitz, the song is written as a commentary of the possible feelings and thoughts of angels during Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. 

“The award was a total surprise to me,” said Mr. Nitz. “As far as I knew at the time of the project’s conception, I was just doing my job. I attended the awards ceremony simply because I was invited. I really had no expectation of winning. Of course, I am thrilled and honored beyond words to have been nominated and win this award.” 

A freelance arranger, orchestrator, and vocalist, Mr. Nitz graduated from Lee in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in music business, then returned to Lee to earn a master’s degree in church music. He is currently the staff arranger and worship leader at Christ Church Nashville. Additionally, Mr. Nitz recently contributed arrangements for the upcoming Voices of Lee Christmas record. 

According to Mr. Duren, he had not orchestrated before coming to Lee, and he regards his studies as a defining time in his career and ministry. Similarly, Mr. Nitz attributes his accomplishments in the music business to the education he received at Lee. 

“My time at Lee most definitely influenced any success I’ve had,” said Mr. Nitz. “I don’t expect to gain any further accolades or work from the award, but rather it’s just an affirmation that I’m doing what God has called me to do.” 

Since 1970, the GMA Dove Awards has celebrated rich musical diversity and honored excellence in Christian Music. Awards are presented to individuals representing genres spanning styles of modern rock to contemporary pop to southern gospel. 

For more information about the GMA Dove Awards, visit doveawards.com.

Phil Nitz
Phil Nitz

Eric Johnson Ah Via Musicom Tour Is Here Oct. 11

The Eric Johnson Ah Via Musicom Tour will be at Walker Theatre on Oct. 11.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $29 and $39 and available here on Friday.  Review for Eric Johnson: The guitar has been very good to Eric Johnson, earning him international renown as a player, composer, recording artist and live entertainer as ... (click for more)

Hip Hop Nutcracker Comes To The Tivoli Nov. 23

Hip Hop Nutcracker will be at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 23.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Ticket are on sale Friday and are $75 VIP M&G, $55, $45, $35 and $25 (plus applicable fees) and will be available here .  Review for Hip Hop Nutcracker:  A holiday mash-up for the entire family, The Hip Hop ... (click for more)

Former Dalton High School Teacher Who Fired Gun At School Pleads Guilty, Sentenced To 2 Years

Jesse Randall Davidson, 53, formerly of 5219 Hwy 11, Rising Fawn, and formerly a teacher at Dalton High School, entered a guilty plea to criminal damage to property in the first degree, carrying a weapon within a school safety zone and disrupting the operation of a public school.  He was sentenced to serve two years in prison followed by eight years on probation on the first ... (click for more)

Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm Fire On Workman Road Tuesday Morning

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched at 6:03 a.m. on Tuesday, to a commercial fire at 400 Workman Road. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, flames were shooting through the roof and the request was immediately made for a second alarm response. The flames could be seen for miles as a total of 13 fire companies rushed to the scene. The large, two-story ... (click for more)

Bill Lee Is Great For Tennessee

I had the opportunity to meet Bill and Maria Lee at the grand opening of his Chattanooga Campaign HQ. He delivered, what was by most accounts, a showstopper speech at the Statesman’s dinner in Nashville the night before. He and Maria should have been worn out, but if they were, they really showed very little sign of it. His energy level, for a guy that couldn’t have gotten more ... (click for more)

A Successful East Ridge Bake Sale

Saturday's event at the Camp Jordan Pavilion was nothing more than extraordinary, if not history making.  Alongside the threatening eminent domain letters the citizens of East Ridge received, a Union was formed amongst the East Ridge Police Department.  Coming to City Council the night of April 26, I had only one thing I was focused on: eminent domain.  ... (click for more)