The "ICGMA", International Country Gospel Music Association celebrated their 60th Annual Convention and Awards Show August 4th, 5th, & 6th 2016 at the West Plains Civic Center in historic West Plains, Missouri. The powerful ministry of Country Gospel Music was clearly evident, as singers and musicians repeatedly conveyed to the audience, "It's All About Him"! From the opening prayer to the closing ceremonies on the final evening, the presence of The Lord Jesus Christ was wonderfully evident. These awards are to Christian music like the "CMA" Awards are to Country Music, being recognized for their talent and achievements in the genera of Christian Country Music.
Doris was named "ICGMA Female Vocalist of the Year" for 2016! Mike & Doris where honored again this year with their album "Detours" being in the top 5, and Their current single, "God is Good" is now #3 on this year's charts!
In 2015, Mike & Doris Merritt where honored with the award of ICGMA "Duo of the Year" and their CD was placed in the top 5 nominated for 2015 ICGMA "Album of the Year"! The title song on their CD "Detours", was # 1 on the "Cash Box Christian Country Charts" in 2015! GOD IS GOOD!!!!
The "Cowboy Way of Life" for the Merritt's is more than just riding horses across the wide open country under a great, big sky. It's a reflection of the lifestyle the Oklahoma-based couple chooses to not only live, but to sing about. So, when they were named Duo of the Year in 2015 by the International Country Gospel Music Association (ICGMA), the Oklahoma-based couple felt blessed, humbled, and, certainly, validated for their latest album, Detours, which was also nominated for Album of the Year. Then in 2016, nominated top 10 "Duo of the Year", top 5 "Album of the Year" & Doris, herself a former member of 80s hit country group "Girls Next Door", was awarded the 2016 "Female Vocalist of the Year"! The title track from the album, "Detour" hit the #1 spot on the Cashbox Christian Country Charts in 2015 and their current, single "God is Good" holds the #3 spot. God is Good, all the time!!!
Mike, is a Texan & the preacher of Cowboy Crossing Church in Hugo where Doris, a native of Nashville, is the music leader. The couple also helped start several cowboy churches in Oklahoma. "Merritt Cowboy Ministries" is their own ministry where they speak and share their music in concerts, rodeos, horse events, cowboy churches and private venues. They have a CD titled "Detours", that they went back to Doris' home in Nashville to record. They had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented musicians and wonderful writers like Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz ("I Won't Take Less Than Your Love"), Bill Mack ("Clinging To A Saving Hand"), Roy Robinson ("The Cowboy Song"), Dan Roberts ("Horses In Heaven") and Michael Martin Murphey ("Kill Pen). "Murph" also then sang with Doris on the CD!! "'Detour", the title cut of their album, was a big hit in 1946 for Wesley Tuttle, In the late 50s, he left Capitol and began a full time Christian ministry. He re-wrote the lyrics of 'Detour' to reflect his Christian faith. It is a great message about God's grace!" On their CD "Detours", the Merritt's bring a fresh, positive message and it's a theme that mirrors the cowboy ministry the two have built over the past several years.
Mike & Doris were invited to perform with Michael Martin Murphey in concert on several occasions, as well as the "American Horse Woman's Challenge" in Guthrie, Oklahoma and the "Fieno Rose Murphey Foundation" trail ride in Tennessee, for the past two years where Mike & Doris closed the week with Cowboy church on Sunday along with Murphey. They had the opportunity to sing at the "Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering" in the Ft. Worth Stock Yards and then sing for their cowboy church on Sunday morning. Mike & Doris provided the music for the AFCC (American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches) Cowboy Gathering in Glen Rose, TX accompanied by "The Boys in the Bunk House" (Red Steagall's Band)! And Performed for the "Cowboy Gathering", celebrating the "100th year of the Payne County Fair" in Stillwater, OK along with Red Steagall. The duo will be at the fair in Tulsa, Oklahoma this year for Cowboy Church on Sunday Morning!
Growing up in Texas, Mike learned the life of a cowboy working on ranches, riding bulls and rodeoing, honing his skills as a musician playing with an award-winning Texas band. Doris is likewise no stranger to the music business, having been part of the popular 80s Country group, Girls Next Door, enjoying chart-topping success with such songs as "Slow Boat To China" and "Love Will Get You Through Times of No Money." "That song was requested on Christian radio as well as Country radio," Doris recalls. "It was confirmation we were where God wanted us to be and He had his hand on us even back then." The "Girls" traveled extensively touring and opening with some of the greats in country music like "George Jones, "The Statler Brothers", "Oakridge Boys" and many others.
A highlight of the album is the reunion of the "Girls Next Door", the country recording group Doris sang with. It's also a treat to hear them reprise their country hit, "Love Will Get You Through Times Of No Money." The "Girls" also sang on the Ira Stanphill classic "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow," and the Overstreet, Fred Carpenter and BIlly Prince gem "Till The Answer Comes (Gotta Keep Praying)." "This is an extraordinary time for us," says Mike. "God is positive, and that's what we are trying to show. That's what we find in this way of life, and we want everybody to know about it. God is opening doors for us to share our love for Him & our passion for this ministry. We are so blessed & humbled to use the talents he has honed on for years.