It's not unusual for emotions to run high at the Dove Awards, the Gospel Music Association's annual celebration of faith-based music, but Thursday night's show was an especially poignant event. Christian music veteran Steven Curtis Chapman's wins in the Artist and Songwriter of the Year categories were bittersweet coming near the first anniversary of his five-year-old daughter Maria's death in a tragic accident.

"It was awkward in a way to receive these awards, because I know a lot of it has to do with people wanting to say, 'We love you and are with you,'" said Chapman backstage at the Doves, acknowledging the prayers and support his family has following Maria's death on May 21, 2008 when their teenage son, Will Franklin, accidentally ran over her while backing the family's SUV out of the driveway. The Chapmans have three biological children -- Emily, Caleb and Will Franklin, and have adopted three daughters from China -- Shaohannah, Stevie Joy and Maria.

"I know a lot of the reasons why I'm standing here has a lot to do with what we've been through this past year," he continued in the Doves' press room. "There's a lot of mixed emotions. I never wanted to be here doing this acceptance speech under these circumstances ... but my family knows this is one more encouragement from the Lord to say how loved we are."

2009 Dove Awards

    Steven Curtis Chapman, right, accepts the award for artist of the year as he is joined by his wife, Mary Beth, at the Dove awards in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, April 23, 2009. The couple's 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue, was accidentally killed last May. The Dove awards honor Christian and gospel music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    AP

    Steven Curtis Chapman performs at the Dove awards in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, April 23, 2009. Chapman won the award for artist of the year. The Dove awards honor Christian and gospel music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    AP

    Miss California Carrie Prejean, left, signs autographs after the Dove awards in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, April 23, 2009. The Dove awards honor Christian and gospel music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    AP

    Singer Natalie Grant performs onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57261376), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Singer Kim Hopper of the Hoppers performs onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57265320), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Musician Steven Curtis Chapman onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Pre-Telecast Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57264240), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Musician Steven Curtis Chapman performs onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57261789), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Musician Kirk Franklin and Actor Billy Baldwin speak onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57264030), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Musician Kirk Franklin and Actor Billy Baldwin speak onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57262084), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

    Musician Brandon Heath speaks onstage at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry House on April 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards - Show Grand Ole Opry House Nashville, TN United States April 23, 2009 Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage.com To license this image (57261803), contact WireImage.com

    Rick Diamond/WireImage.com

soKe.flace('music-dove.awards.2009', '476', '600'); var uid = new Date().getTime(); var flashProxy = new FlashProxy(uid, 'http://www.aolcdn.com/_media/modtools/kit_swfpublisher_javascriptflashgateway.swf'); var flashvars = {}; try { flashvars.lcId = uid; } catch (Exc) { }; try { flashvars.targetAds = 'music-dove.awards.2009'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { flashvars.omniture_tracker = '0'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { flashvars.adrefresh_wrapper = '1'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { flashvars.appConfigURL = soKe.fv('http://xml.channel.aol.com/xmlpublisher/fetch.v2.xml?option=expand_relative_urls&dataUrlNodes=uiConfig,feedConfig,localizationConfig,entry&id=574744&pid=574743&uts=1240597628'); } catch (Exc) { }; if (typeof(screen_name) != 'undefined') try { flashvars.userName = screen_name; } catch (Exc) { }; var params = {}; try { params.wmode = 'opaque'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { params.menu = 'false'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { params.bgcolor = '#d2d2d2'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { params.quality = 'best'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { params.allowScriptAccess = 'always'; } catch (Exc) { }; try { params.allowFullScreen = 'true'; } catch (Exc) { }; var attributes = {}; try { attributes.id = 'outlet'; } catch (Exc) { }; top.exd_space.refresher.ads2Refresh(new Array( 'music-dove.awards.2009', new Array('93243970','300','250','0','I','1') )); top.exd_space.refresher.iFrm2Refresh(new Array( 'music-dove.awards.2009', new Array('Placement_ID', '1435671'), new Array('Domain_ID', '1395767') )); top.exd_space.refresher.mmx('music-dove.awards.2009', 'http://www.aolcdn.com/_media/channels/ke_blank.html', ''); swfobject.embedSWF('http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/media_gallery/v1/ke_media_gallery_wrapper.swf', 'music-dove.awards.2009-swf', '476', '600', '9.0.115', 'http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/swfobject/expressinstall.swf', flashvars, params, attributes); top.exd_space.refresher.launcher( 'music-dove.awards.2009',{ dynamicSlide:[''], size:['456t'], photoNumber:['0'], title:['Dove Awards 2009'], numimages:['74'], baseImageURL:['http://o.aolcdn.com/photo-hub/'], imageurl:['AC78B022715C5B8357B4DCA8045E8463B4DE2124/APTOPIX_Music_Dove_Awards.jpg_LR1.cc9fefcd0b8d4919b01ed7a7532114d0'], credit:['AP'], source:['AP'], caption:['Steven Curtis Chapman, right, accepts the award for artist of the year as he is joined by his wife, Mary Beth, at the Dove awards in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, April 23, 2009. The couple's 5-year-old daughter, Maria Sue, was accidentally killed last May. The Dove awards honor Christian and gospel music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)'], dims:['http://o.aolcdn.com/dims/PGMC/5/410/383/70/'], showDisclaimerText:[''], disclaimerText:[''], CSS_Title:[''], CSS_Caption:[''], CSS_Disclaimer:[''], CSS_Container:[''], CSS_Border:[''], CSS_PhotoWell:[''], CSS_photoHolder:[''], CSS_Buttons:[''], CSS_BtnOver:[''], CSS_Scroll:[''], topMargin:['0,0,410,383,408,269,0,0'] } );

During the show, which aired live on the Gospel Music Channel, Chapman performed 'Cinderella,' a hit song inspired by his youngest daughters. In the chorus, he sings, "So I'll dance with Cinderella / While she is here in my arms / 'Cause I know something the prince never knew / Oh I'll dance with Cinderella / I don't wanna miss even one song / 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight / And she'll be gone."

Chapman's performance elicited a tearful and prolonged standing ovation from the audience in Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry house. Later in the show, his wife, Mary Beth, was by his side as he accepted his seventh Dove award in the Artist of the Year category. (Chapman is the most awarded artist in Dove history with over 50 statuettes to his credit, including 10 wins in the Songwriter of the Year category.)

Backstage he talked about how difficult the past year has been, especially handling media requests to talk about the tragedy. But Chapman also spoke of how his faith has sustained his family as they navigate what he calls "the new normal."

"Scripture hasn't just become more precious, but it's become the air that I breathe," he said. "There have been some mornings where I'm not sure if I'll be able to get out of bed, but now when I read the Bible, it's become my oxygen."

Chapman has been touring with Michael W. Smith on the United Tour, which he says has aided the healing process. "There's something so powerful, so profoundly healing about proclaiming the word of God is true. There's so much I didn't understand until I walked through this," he said addressing reporters in the press room. "The Psalms have become so much more real to me because I understand so much more now of the struggle David was going through in writing those. All the verses that have always been in my brain, this experience has made me take them into my heart."

The Chapmans have long been advocates for adoption, launching Shaohannah's Hope in 2001, named after their nine-year-old adopted daughter. This week a new name, Show Hope, and website were unveiled. The organization aids orphans around the world and assists parents looking to adopt who don't have the necessary financial resources. To honor Maria, the organization is building Maria's Big House of Hope in Luoyang, China, a six-story facility to care for orphans with special needs. Click here to find out how you can help.

For a complete list of 2009 Dove Award winners, visit www.doveawards.com/doveawards.