On September 10th Verizon’s How Sweet The Sound returned to Atlanta, GA for the fifth consecutive year to a captive audience. There were several notable Gospel figures in the building including Dottie Peoples, VaShawn Mitchell, Taffi Dollar, Joann Rosario and BET Sunday Best winner Joshua Rogers, proviing that Phillips Arena was the place to be on Monday for America’s premier Gospel showcase. As always the audience was treated to performances from our judges and hosts. Bishop Hezekiah Walker and our house choir (Kevin Lemons and Higher Calling) started the festivities off right with a stirring performance of “Souled Out.” Our hosts Donald Lawrence and Yolanda Adams then introduced our esteemed judges who were all happy to be in the beautiful city of Atlanta. The first choir of the evening was Robert Weaver and The Weaver Chorale performing “Do You Know Him.” They kept it traditional with no leads, which the judges felt would have helped their performance. However, their energy was great and they the audience could tell that the choir was enjoying themselves on stage. Their band was also really good. Next up was Voices of Life of the Life Center Church, directed by Elder V. Lamar Wilson. They sang “I’ve Got a Reason” and they sang it with conviction. They immediately impressed with a strong acapella opening and they didn’t let off of the gas from that point on. Both of their soloists wowed with powerful voices. They were clearly a crowd and judge favorite prompting Bishop Hezekiah Walker to proclaim that Voices of Life had his vote. We were honored to have Cedric Sesley and Out for Souls as How Sweet The Sound’s first Community Choir. The Nashville outfit, sang God Wants A Yes.” They set the bar very high for any community choirs to follow, not only with their stage presence and costumes but most importantly with their immensely powerful voices. Judge CeCe Winans did an amazing job of performing her hit single “He’s Concerned,” which warmed the audience up nicely for Fred Hammond a spirit filled performance of his hits medley. Our beautiful co-host Yolanda Adams brought us back from intermission with her hit “Be Still.” Oakwood University gospel choir, Dynamic Praise kicked off the second half of the show with an amazing performance of “Lift the Savior Up.” They are the first college choir to perform at How Sweet The Sound. The Bruce Bean led choir had a lot of Oakwood alumni in the building cheering them on and they did not disappoint. Each section held their own and they exuded a quiet, mellow confidence as judge Fred Hammond put it. The next choir was another local favorite Anointed Voices directed by Micah Meredith. They performed “I Opened My Mouth Unto The Lord.” They really took the crowd to church with various takes on a classic song. This choir can vocally do it all. AV touched the spirit of the judges with their performance. ”You were so precise, the voices were powerful. Puts you in the mind of the old spirituals,” said judge CeCe Winans. The final choir for the evening was last but certainly not least. Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir and their director Brandon Frazier are former HSTS champions. It was clear that the crowd was ready to jump on their feet as soon as AWPC hit the stage. Their performance of “Let Everything That Hath Breath” was something to behold. They returned better than before. Their performance was just about perfect. Before the winners were announced, the Phillip’s crowd were blessed with two more performances. Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell donned the stage in her beautiful gown and sang Walter Hawkins’ classic record changed. Bishop Walker followed her with Higher Calling to perform his hit “You’re All I Need.” After awarding Anointed Voices with the Verizon HopeLine award for most phones donated to the program, our judges announced the winner of the Verizon People’s Choice Award. The choir that received the most text votes was crowd favorite Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir. As the winner, they received a $5000 check. Next up, Yolanda and Donald asked Cedric Sesley and Out for Souls to the stage to join AWPC as the top vote getters of the night. The place was electric in anticipation of the regional champion. And the winner was… Returning champions AWPC. They won another $10,000 and will go on to represent the Atlanta region at the How Sweet The Sound finale in Brooklyn, NY at the Barclay’s Center on November 4th. The night concluded with all of the talent joining on stage to perform Donald Lawrence’s “Giants.” A great time was had by all. Thanks so much to our wonderful sponsors, Verizon and United Healthcare, as well as the choirs and most of all the people who supported by coming to the show. We love you Atlanta!