The Lakers and Clippers don’t start playing until late October but LA’s Staples Center was rocking on September 21st at the final Verizon’s How Sweet The Sound regional celebration for 2012. As always, Hezekiah Walker opened up the show with a rousing performance. Reverend Hez, along with local house choir, Hearts of Antioch of Long Beach started things off with a blast. The first choir of the evening was Capital City Singers out of Sacramento, CA, directed by Adrien Dotes. The choir put on a theatrical performance of “God is in Control.” Their moves were classic and their blue and yellow robes in tandem with the traditional organ and technical direction made them a crowd favorite from the start. Danell Daymon and the Greater Works Chorale represented the Pacific Northwest well with a performance of How Sweet The Sound judge Hezekiah Walker’s song, “Do You Know Him.” The Seattle choir wore beautiful nostalgic costumes. They started off on an opera vibe and brought it back to church soon thereafter. Their showmanship was off the charts from the choir to the amazing soloist. Hometown favorites, Greater Los Angeles Cathedral Choir and their director Laweta Casiano sang “At The Cross.” They came out to a big ovation and never let up. The interaction between the solo singer and the choir was some of the best we’ve seen during the tour. The crowd was treated to great performances from judges VaShawn Mitchell, Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond before the choir competition resumed in the second half of the show. The Celestial Voices Chorale, directed by Gashon Holden sang an upbeat version of the classic gospel song, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Their purple and silver robes, which the director designed himself, were absolutely beautiful. From their movement to the full sound the choir displayed, Celestial brought it to the LA audience. The Porter Brothers & Genesis were our second choir of the night from California’s capital. Directed by Dr. Tecoy Porter, they sang, “It is Well Within My Soul.” Their appearance was very clean and classy and their performance was tight and technical. They won the HopeLine Champion Award for donating the most cell phones to Verizon’s program, which benefits the victims of domestic violence. The Gospel Gators of San Francisco State University were our last collegiate choir for the 2012 celebration and despite their bus breaking down on the way to Los Angeles, they represented well. The multi-cultural choir had a lot of soul to their performance. After somewhat of a shaky start they won the crowd over. After judge Erica Campbell of Mary Mary represented for her hometown with a performance of “Yesterday,” it was time for the winners to be announced. The Verizon People’s Choice award winner was Danell Daymon and the Greater Works Chorale. The Los Angeles regional runner-up was Gospel Gators of San Francisco State University. The Los Angeles regional winner was Danell Daymon and the Greater Works Chorale. The audience was blessed with a phenomenal performance of Donald Lawrence’s “Giants” to end the wonderful night. Thanks to our sponsors Verizon and United Healthcare, the competing choirs and all of the good people who attended and made the night and the overall tour a success.
Due to the devastating situation in the Northeast, Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound grand finale has been postponed. We will be bringing America’s most prestigious gospel celebration to the community at a later date. Please continue to check www.howsweetthesound.com for updates. Our thoughts and well wishes go out to those individuals who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
On Monday Verizon’s How Sweet The Sound came to Chicago’s United Center and blew the roof off. CeCe Winans was back as our judge and the choirs all brought their A game for one of our biggest shows yet. The Verizon Employee Choir opened the show on a fun note with a great performance. Andre Crittenden & the L.A.W. were the first competing choir of the evening. They sang, “Perfect Peace.” They are a small choir with a really big sound. The band had a diverse sound, which resonated with the crowd. Their appearance was colorful and it helped them stand out. The second choir up was Gregg and F.R.I.E.N.D.S directed by Gregory McCarter who sang Donald Lawrence’s “You Are an Heir.” They had really colorful red robes. Their band was also on point and played a reggae tinged set. The choreography and their extremely powerful voices helped raise the bar for the competition. They won the Verizon HopeLine Award for most cell phones donated to the program that helps victims of domestic violence. The next choir up was Voices of St. James directed by Robert Rogers who sang, “There’s Power.” Rogers’s direction was very energetic and it set off a strong performance from introduction to conclusion. Once again the band was great, they used the organ and congas to perfection. Their soloist took it over the top. After intermission, Anthony McGahee and Praise Motivated sang, “Tis So Sweet.” They were a very big choir with strong sections, particularly the soprano and baritone sections. They blended very well and used old school church fans as props. At times the vocal volume dropped down but they always came back strong. Dexter Walker and Zion Motivated came straight out of the box with power as they sang, ”Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho.” Their colorful robes were eye catching but they could have been dressed in paper sacks and still won the crowd over. This was the first choir to add somewhat of a hip-hop feel to their performance. The choreography was impressive. They actually sang from the floor. Truly the best choir we had seen thus far that night. The Wheaton College Gospel Choir directed by Tanya Egler sang “Let Everything That Hath Breath.” They had a tough act to follow but thanks to their movement and vocals, they did well and kept the crowd motivated. They kept the great performances by college choirs streak going. Chicago Region Runner-Up was Anthony McGahee and Praise Motivated Chicago Region Winner and Verizon People’s Choice Award Winner was Dexter Walker and Zion Motivated Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the choirs, talent and our sponsors, Verizon Wireless and United Healthcare.
Verizon’s How Sweet The Sound Gospel Celebration touched down in Detroit on September 15th at Joe Louis Arena. The crowd was great, the choirs were stellar and our judges and hosts were at their best for the 5th year in the D. It was a homecoming for two of our judges. Hometown hero Fred Hammond got a huge ovation from the crowd when he was introduced. He shouted out his high school as well as a couple local eateries, which further endeared him to his hometown family. This was also the first night our alternate judge and Detroit native, VaShawn Mitchell joined the show. The first choir up was HIghest Praise Community Gospel Choir directed by Jeremiah Towner. They sang a very original rendition of “For Every Mountain.” Their performance started off kind of slow but when they let loose with the vocals the crowd reacted favorably. Their look was very intact with all of the female singers wearing the same hairstyle. Albert Strickland & Cho’zen were up next, they sang, “The Lord Is Blessing Me.” They kept it classic with stark red robes, tambourines and washboards. Their band was very good and kept the crowd involved and on their feet. Judge Hezekiah Walker was summed it up best when he stated ” It was tremendous, when you came out I looked at those robes and said, we getting ready to go to church.” Anointed Voices of Higher Ground sang, “God is in Control.” They had a lot of energy, great choreography and strong voices. Their performance was theatrical almost like a play. Their soloist took it over the top for the choir. Pleasant Green Choir sang “When The Saint Go To Worship.” They separated themselves appearance wise by wearing very nice purple dresses and suits with purple ties. Their choreography was very controlled. Midway thru they got into their groove and the crowd reacted well. Their blend was impeccable and they exhibited a lot of vocal power. The final choir The Apostolic Church Sanctuary Choir was the last choir of the evening singing “Hallelujah Anyhow.” They were the first multi-cultural choir of the evening and they had a very talented female choir director. They immediately got the crowd involved and never let go. Their soloist controlled the performance. They were one of the most impressive choirs we’ve seen on the tour. Their performance even prompted a 10-minute plus praise session. The Detroit Region Runner-Up was Pleasant Green Choir The 2012 Detroit Region Winner and Verizon People’s Choice Award Winner Was The Apostolic Church Sanctuary Choir Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the choirs, talent and our sponsors, Verizon Wireless and United Healthcare.
We reached Newark, NJ, our fourth stop on Verizon’s How Sweet The Sound tour Thursday night. The Prudential Center was filled with people ready to praise and root for their favorite choir. There were several special guests, including Vy Higgensen, James Hall (who was there to witness three choirs sing his songs) and local heroes, The Three Doctors. Bishop Hezekiah Walker kicked the show with Vy Higgensen’s Gospel for Teens choir singing “Souled Out.” The first choir for the evening was Sill and the Truth directed by George Sykes sang, “It is Well.” George Sykes was the man early on as he not only directed the choir with flair, he also instructed the crowd to get in on the action and they did. SIII brought a new wrinkle to HSTS by including some Urban AC styling within their arrangement. The next choir up was Sean Tillery and Changed who sang “Blessed Assurance.” The choir had a lot of intricate movement that made them stand out. The judges felt the dancing was a little over the top and didn’t fully connect with the audience. The Maryland choir did sing well and performed a great interpretation of their song. They ladies dresses and the men’s suits were some of the sharpest we’ve seen thus far on the tour. The third choir of the night was Powerfied Youth Choir directed by Aaron Levere who sang,”God Wants a Yes.” Powerfied sounded like a very good youth choir that one would hear during Sunday morning service until their soloist started to connect with the crowd. She had a very soulful voice. They also get credit for singing, “God Wants a Yes,” while the songs author, James Hall, was in the audience. The second half of the choir competition began with Kergyma Community Choir directed by Arnold Johnson, who sang another James Hall song, “I Won’t Forget.” Kergyma had beautiful robes, which magnified their tight choreography. The band pulled things together with the choir and got the Newark audience on their feet midway through the performance. Their movements once again caught the judges off guard but the voices were enough to show and prove. Up next was Zak Williams and 1/AKORD who sang “Caught Up In The Rapture.” They wore suits and dresses instead of robes, which gave them a unique appearance. Their interpretation of the song was very original. The vocal arrangements and the band’s New Orleans 2nd line style was a real crowd pleaser. 1/AKORD had a memorable finale to their performance as they all laid down on the stage at the end. The final choir of the night was Power in Praise Mass Choir directed by Djore Nance who sang, “Ride on King Jesus.” They came out the gate and caught the crowd’s attention and they never let up. Their voices were super powerful from the director on down. Their performance led the audience into a praise break. After the choirs were done, the audience got to hear Erica Campbell of Mary Mary sing “Yesterday” and Bishop Hezekiah Walker sing “You’re All I Need.” Much like the Washington D.C. HSTS, Newark got a special treat from Lonnie Hunter, who sang one of his new songs “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Thanks to several stellar performances, the audience waited in anticipation for the Donald Lawrence and Yolanda Adams to announce the Newark regional winners. So without further ado, the winners are…. Verizon HopeLine Champion Award: Powerfied Youth Choir Verizon’s People’s Choice Award: Power in Praise Mass Choir Newark Regional Runner Up: SIII and The Truth Newark Regional Champion: Power in Praise Mass Choir We would like to extend a thank you to each and every person who spent his or her night praising and rejoicing with us at the Prudential Center. Thanks to our sponsors, Verizon and United Healthcare. And last but not least, thank so all of the participating choirs that made the event such a special one.