Millikin alum wins AMA award

Caitlin Husted, Staff Writer

Many people have come and gone through Millikin’s campus, but not many alums have won an American Music Award. However, on Nov. 24, 2013, Millikin alum Matthew West received an AMA for Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist, beating out other Christian artists TobyMac and Chris Tomlin.

West graduated from Millikin in 1999 with a B.M. in commercial music. Right around graduation, he was approached by a friend, telling him to attend the annual Gospel Music Association, GMA, Music in the Rockies event for aspiring musicians, knowing that he had talent and wanting him to show others his gift. At first, West wasn’t interested in the contest and wasn’t considering competing until learning that other people had signed him up and paid his entrance fee; leaving him, really, with no choice.

Much to West’s surprise, he ended up in the finals of the songwriting competition and was offered a songwriting deal in July of 1999. Instead of starting with as an independent artist, West began his career by penning songs for well-known musicians such as Billy Ray Cyrus and Rachael Lampa. However, in 2000 and 2001, West began to move away from penning songs for other artists and advanced to touring the United States as an independent artist.

In 2003, he became popular in the Christian music scene with his single, “More,” which held the number one position on the Christian Adult Contemporary charts for nine weeks, a record breaking hold. This song was also the most played Christian AC song of 2004 and was soon labelled as the Christian Song of the Year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, ASCAP.

From there, West’s name began to circulate and people began to take to his songs. He has become a well-known name in the Christian music scene and, at this time, is set to join TobyMac’s Hits Deep Tour in the spring of 2014.

West attended the event in Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre with his wife Emily. They both enjoyed the performances and loved seeing other singers do what they love. With his first nomination for the AMA award resulting in a win, he feels empowered and blessed to have such amazing fans who took the time to vote for him.