Marvin Sapp said he experienced a surreal moment when he was named Best Gospel Artist at last night's 2008 BET Awards.

"It's unbelievable,'' said Sapp by phone from Los Angeles during the live airing of the show. "It's a phenomenal moment.

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"To think I wasn't going to put it (the hit song "Never Would Have Made It") on the CD,'' he said.. "But I listened to my wife and put it on the CD.''

"Never Would Have Made It" has pushed Sapp's CD titled Thirsty to the top of Billboard's Gospel and R&B charts.

Sapp, a pastor, first sang "Never Would Have Made It'' from the pulpit of his church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

He delivered the song on a Sunday soon after the death of his father and another mentor. He'd sing the song many times before putting it to paper and later on the CD.

Last night, he performed "Never Would Have Made It" before thousands in attendance at the 2008 BET Awards. It was a performance that made the live broadcast feel like a Sunday morning service.

He missed his weekly Tuesday night Bible Class to attend the high style event, which primarily salutes the work of secular artists in R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop and Rap.

"I thank the church for allowing me to be here,'' said Sapp, pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center.

The other nominees for Best Gospel Artist were Deitrick Haddon, Trin I-Tee 5:7, Kirk Franklin and The Clark Sisters.

Sapp recently held two concerts in Maryland, one of which was in Baltimore at the Church of the Reedemed of the Lord on Old York Road.

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