How Sweet The Sound Choir Competition - Gospel Choir Selah Performed at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas

PHOTO BY ROBERT W. HART

Members of the gospel choir Selah perform with their director Titus Glenn at the How Sweet The Sound choir competition on Thursday September 6, 2012 at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas.

By DAWN M. BURKES
The Dallas Morning News Staff Writer
Published: 07 September 2012 06:22 PM
dburkes@dallasnews.com

In orderly fashion, the majestic St. Mark Sanctuary Choir of Little Rock, Ark., won the How Sweet the Sound regional competition with a soaring performance at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie on Thursday night.

It seemed as if the robed choir’s stately entry to the stage took just as long as their performance of their own “Worship Medley.” There were so many choir members that host Donald Lawrence had to fill the time by asking gospel superstar judge Fred Hammond how he liked living in the D-FW area (“Love it”) and chatting with fellow host Yolanda Adams. Then it was St. Mark’s turn.

It’s not easy to achieve such precision — in voice or in movement — with that many members of anything, but by the time the medley reached a crescendo, even the judges were standing.

It was a true moment of individuals “embracing their grace,” as Lawrence preached from the stage between choirs. Perhaps he was inspired by the fellowship in the hall and graceful, unhurried performances from the host and judges. Adams performed “Be Still;” CeCe Winans performed a gentle “He’s Concerned;” and Hammond offered a medley of his greatest hits.

Audiences have become accustomed to the judging process for singing competitions, given the number of them on TV. The key difference for HSTS is that the judges, though critical and exacting, do so to a chorus of agreement from the audience.

“We’re seeing you,” Winans said about one choir’s distracting choreography, “and that means we’re missing the message.”

The judges’ panel also included Hezekiah Walker and Erica Campbell of Mary Mary.

How Sweet the Sound, in its fifth year and sponsored by Verizon, stages competitions in seven regions.

Thursday’s showdown in Grand Prairie also included Marquinn Middleton & the Miracle Chorale of Dallas; Carnel Davis & Incorporated to Praise of Houston; spirited runner-up and people’s choice St. John Church Music Ministry of Grand Prairie; God’s Tabernacle of Deliverance Bishop’s Choir of Arlington; and Selah, from Denton. St. Mark won $10,000 and a trip to the finals on Nov. 4 at New York’s Barclays Center. If it wins the finale, it’ll get a chance at a recording contract from How Sweet the Sound Records. St. John Church Music Ministry received a $5,000 check.

The celebration goes to Atlanta next, followed by Washington, D.C.; Newark, N.J.; Detroit; Chicago; and Los Angeles.

Follow Dawn Burkes on Twitter at @DawnBurkes.




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