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Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The first 10 of 20 contestants on BET’s Idol-styled Gospel singing contest, Sunday Best came out like winners during the first week of competition. The judges mainly lauded their performances only offering minimal corrective advice. With the exception of Nigerian singer Fumni Oduyemi whose nervousness was apparent vocally, the other nine contestants came off as confident and semi-professional as they sang selections by Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams.

This season’s top 20 vocalists were chosen from auditions in Nigeria, Philadelphia, Detroit and New Orleans and are vying for the title in New Orleans. They are:

Bethany Devine - Little Rock, AR
Brian Smith - Chicago, IL
Brittney J. Dear - Madison, MS
David E. Wilford - Millsboro, DL
Davon Fleming - Baltimore, MD
Dathan Thigpen - Ridgeland, MS
Durward Davis - Tulsa, OK
Fumni Oduyemi - Lagos, Nigeria
Franklin Davis, IV - New Orleans, LA
Goldwire McLendon - Philadelphia, PA
Jonte Thomas - New Orleans, LA
Lamesha "Mesie" Augustine - Indianapolis, IN
Leandria Johnson - Orlando, FL
Martha Buries - Houston, TX
Orlando Wright - Cincinnati, OH
Quiana Pettigrew - Cleveland, OH
Robert Hatcher - Brooklyn, NY
Tawanna Tarvin - Monroe, LA
Tiffany Carlin-Laird - Baton Rouge, LA
Vernell Payton - New Orleans, LA

The show is hosted by gospel Kirk Franklin. Kim Burrell is this season’s vocal coach. The judges are renowned gospel artists, Donnie McClurkin and Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Campbell). Yolanda Adams is sitting in for Erica Campbell who recently gave birth to her second child.

Voting will begin on the next airing after the second group 10 performs. Sunday Best airs on BET on Sundays at 8 PM ET/PT.


I know it’s too soon to forecast the winner of Sunday Best. However, based on the outcome from the first show, if I was going to purchase a gospel CD it would be Leandria Johnson’s (Orlando, FL). And if I was in need of a spiritual breakthrough, I would listen to Elder Goldwire McClendon (Philadelphia, PA) all day long. These two contestants epitomize great gospel singing; they delivered a God-centered message with power. They both possess the “feel-it” factor, which is essential to ministering in song.

Bro. McClendon, at 80 is the oldest competitor and sounds like he’s been singing all the days of his life! Can I get a witness? As the final contestant of the evening, McClendon, a tender tenor who has traces of the Philadelphia sound all over his voice, didn’t get the words in the first stanza of Yolanda Adams’ The Battle Is Not Yours” right and it didn’t even matter. He confidently ad libbed the words as if they were written exactly as he sang them, lulling the Holy Spirit out of every note. After Bro. McClendon, as they say in the church, came “in his own way” for the first time in the 3-year run of Sunday Best, the judges Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams and some audiences members caught the Holy Ghost. Garnering that type of response, Tina Campbell speaking for the other verklempt judges predicted the Elder would remain in the competition until the end.

Johnson sang “He Kept Me In the Midst of It All” by Yolanda Adams. Having just lost her home to foreclosure a day before, she auditioned at the New Orleans Superdome wearing jeans, socks and flip flops. I interviewed her when I was in New Orleans as a preliminary judge and asked her to sing. People who were in town for another event ran out of a room begging her to sing again. Touch your neighbor and say, “Flip flop girl is a beast!” (In the words of a Facebook observer.) Her performance was the most believable.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give props to 3 others: Durward Davis (Tulsa, OK), Franklin Davis, IV (New Orleans, LA) and Tawanna Tarvin (Monroe, LA). Style and substance, plus the ability to minister a song made them memorable as well.
I’m expecting to be on the edge of my seat throughout this season of Sunday Best.
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KIRK FRANKLIN, THE AUTHOR: Artist addresses heartfelt concerns in new book, The Blue Print

Book Review

Whether on stage, in interviews or in his music, Kirk Franklin’s life has been an open book. Fans who read his autobiography, "Church Boy" know Franklin was abandoned as a child and was judged and sometimes rejected by the environment from whence he came. On Oprah he confessed to having a porn addiction in 2005. But there are untold details in Franklin's life story that further shaped him into the man he is today that are now being revealed on the pages of his new book. On May 18 Franklin hopes to help others conquer their personal storms with the release of "The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Storms" (Gotham Books). In Franklin's self-help digest God is the master architect who has already designed a "time-tested" plan for living blessed lives. He says he learned that anytime he deviated from the Master's plans, he was re-directed and wants to share how finding a successful blueprint for life helped him handle hard knocks. The book reads like a conversation with Franklin, combining his hip language with vivid, realistic scenarios that readers can easily see themselves in as he approaches key life lessons. The Blueprint is a page-turner written from his experiences as an African American, a father and husband. It addresses matters that are dear to the author's heart such as broken families (he says he never saw a black man who was faithful in marriage), selfish singles, and a luke-warm faith walk to name a few. Franklin's message urges readers to accept responsibility for some of the obstacles they’ve encountered, face their fears, return to Godly virtues and move on. This progress can be achieved in Franklin’s words, by getting rid of the “sexies” and understanding that life's hardships can not be rectified with a step plan.

The multi-talented artist/producer shares his thoughts on African American men in the following book excerpt:

BOOK EXCERPT: The Blueprint by Kirk Franklin

Chapter 7, The Blueprint for My Soldiers

To be honest it has been difficult lately to find a community of brothers with whom I share the same passions. Not because of some economic or social reason, but simply because it's getting harder and harder to find men who want to grow, who want to be better than they are. I celebrate the powerful black man in society-- the father, the leader, the professional. I wish the media showed more of him. But for the moment I'm concerned about what I do see, about what needs to change. whether it's the married man who can't see pass the girl at the other table or the one who desires to be just a church goer rather than an ambassador for change in the world around him. Because my past can't be an excuse for the being the father and husband I need to be, I won't make excuses anymore. And I'm tired of those who do. Values seem to be a thing of yesterday; the notion of manhood is fading as fast as Milli Vanilli in the nineties. It makes me think of Michael Jackson's song "Man in the Mirror." Even though that song is almost twenty years old I believe it described the challenge faced by my brothers and society.


Tuesday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m.


8000 Mall Parkway, Suite 2460

Lithonia, GA 30038

Wednesday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Ebenezer AME Church

7806 Allentown Road

Fort Washington, MD 20744-1741

Thursday, May 20 at 6:00 p.m.


2 Penn Plaza

New York, NY 10121

Friday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Legacy Village

24519 Cedar Road

Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Saturday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m.


5601 Mercury Drive

Dearborn, MI 48126

Sunday, May 23 at 9:00 a.m.

The Potter's House

6777 West Kiest Boulevard
Dallas, Texas 75236

Monday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m.

Barnes & Noble

Firewheel Towne Center

190 Cedar Sage Drive Unit #BB01

Garland, TX 75040

Tuesday, May 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Barnes & Noble

7626 Westheimer

Houston, TX 77063

Friday, May 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Eso Won Bookstore

4331 Degnan Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90008
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Legendary crooner, Ron Isley said regular visits from his wife singing gospel music weekly in the prison chapel helped him endure a 3-year prison sentence he recently completed. Isley, aka "Mr. Bigg", was imprisoned for tax evasion in 2006. Now that he's been released he's headed to the studio to work on an all-star album featuring old and new talent. “Some of the people that I'm working with on this album will be Lauryn Hill, T.I., Rick Ross and Burt Bacharach," Isley said in an interview with Steve Harvey. He also plans to record a gospel album.

While he was behind bars Isley, 69, bonded with some of the inmates.

“(I was) talking to young people and crying with them and people that were gonna be in there some years and that part really hurts,” Isley said, according to the Web site Singers Room. “They (inmates) looked up to me.”

Isley will be hit the stage in Atlantic City on May 8th and at The Paradise Theatre in the Bronx, NY on May 9th.
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Lucinda Moore, who has done dynamic vocal cameos on recordings with Hezekiah Walker and Tramaine Hawkins, is celebrating a milestone. The 20-year music veteran best known for her 2006 breakthrough smash “Pressure Into Praise,” has just released her sophomore CD Blessed, Broken & Given (Tyscot Records). The album has debuted at #13 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart –her highest entry to date (Her prior self-titled CD peaked at #18 on the same chart in 2007). “Oh my God,” Moore said through tears when she heard news of the CD’s chart premiere. “I’m so happy. I’ve worked hard all of my life and been through so much but this makes it all feel worth the ups and downs. I’m grateful to my producer Jojo Hill and my Pastor Kevin A. Williams for their part in helping making this project happen.”

The first radio single “Blessed, Broken & Given” is currently among the Top 100 most played songs on gospel radio as Tyscot readies a second single, “Fire Baptized Medley,” for summer airplay. “This is my testimony of what God did for me,” Moore says of the CD’s title song, an inspiring ballad. “He’s blessed me with a voice but He had to break some things in me in order for me to be given to the nation.“

Moore splits her time between her native Connecticut and North Carolina where she moved to care for her ailing grandmother. It’s another chapter in a life filled with trials and tribulations. In her youth, Moore battled childhood abuse; depression over her father’s death, and a 16-year marriage to someone she says “never loved me.” However, Moore’s has been a comfort through the hard times. Even as she was preparing to record the new CD, she was dealing with a rough patch. “I was going through a divorce,” she says. “Emotionally I was a wreck.” She wrote songs for the project that would encourage others. “I’m doing it to help other people come out of what they are coming out of,” she explains. “You don’t have to be unhappy and sit in abuse… This is the happiest time of my adult life.” Visit www.lucindamoore.com or www.tyscot.com for more information
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Black Entertainment Television (BET) is celebrating Mother’s Day - Sunday, May 9, 2010 @ 11:00 AM EST when the Sunday morning staple “Video Gospel” premieres three new videos that every mother will love.

A very poignant moment will be when the show broadcasts the premiere of Tracy Worth’s new video “Christ Is All.” The Chicago-based singer is best-known for her 2005 radio smash “I’ll Follow You” with Melvin Williams of The Williams Brothers. Since that time, she has endured a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. She’s also survived breast cancer and two rounds of chemotherapy. In one scene, Worth is looking in a mirror as she pulls off her wig to showcase the hair loss due to her therapy. She says that through her illness, she learned that “Christ Is All” for her and recorded the song in gratitude to God for her healing her. The song is now available for digital download on itunes and amazon.com

On the same program, The Brown Sisters of Chicago will unveil the video for their Billboard Top 20 smash “Awesome God.” Set in a concert setting, the majestic song of worship features praise dancers and a cameo appearance by their mother.

Rev. Jasper Williams is legendary in preaching circles and known as America’s greatest Hooping preacher. From the 60s’ through the `80s, he recorded two dozen best-selling sermon and gospel music LPs. It’s been over two decades since his last gospel project, so this July he will release the down home gospel CD Landmark. Recorded live at his Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, GA, the concert video of his first single is entitled “Down Through The Years.” “This is a song that all of the elderly church mothers will be waving their hats on,” says one fan of the song.
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