By Mona Austin
The Voices of Destiny Choir (VOD) from Los Angeles, California has won the Verizon "How Sweet the Sound" national choir competition. With electrifying choreography fit for Dancing with the Stars and Glee-like theatrical presentation, the group dominated thirteen other choirs from around the country, performing the a remix of Byron Cage's "The Presence of the Lord" before a sold out audience of 12,000 in Washington D.C.'s Verizon Center on November 13.
The show was hosted by CeCe Winans and Donald Lawrence and judged by Karen Clark Sheard, Fred Hammond and Marvin Sapp who all doubled as headliners adding to an evening of mind blowing entertainment that only cost $8. BeBe Winans joined his sister Ce Ce in a performance.
The Voices of Destiny left Sapp awe-stricken : "I have four words," he said, "Un-be-lieve-able!" Sapps singular sentiment sums up a show that has taken the 3-year-old choir competition to it's next level.
The winning choir received a grand prize package including $25 thousand dollars and the opportunity to perform at the upcoming 2011 Stellar Awards and Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. The Compton-based group patched up their church with the $15,000 won on the regional level and vows to build the first community center in their neighborhood with the grand prize dollars.
Wearing blue attire with red accents that Karen Clark-Sheard joked reminded her of Northwest Airlines uniforms, after winning the singers roamed the halls of the Verizon Center with tears streaming down their faces joyously shouting "Hallelujah!" and "Thank you!" Most of the members of the choir, ranging in age from 18 to 31, have never left the City of Compton, explained their director and Pastor Micheal Fisher, 31.
At the Greater Zion Church Family Church where Fisher is the pastor, dazzling performances are the norm.
The young preacher inherited his role as Pastorfrom his father, but admittedly, bit those moves from old Janet Jackson videos he imitated with friends as a kid.
Some of his church members are converted gangsters from L.A.'s Crips and Bloods. The performing arts element in their ministry keeps people like them, who may not have grown up in the church, engaged.
"It's like putting a little apple juice in the bottle," Fisher continued in a post event interview, "to get the baby to drink it."
He said the outpour of emotion was due partially to gratitude for the pay off for their hard work. The super-polished routine VOD delivered was the fruit of tirelessly working for three hours a day over a five week period. But also, they'd been to the White House earlier that day and thought that was the crux of their cross country journey. The tour, arranged by an L.A. politician was even more significant as, ". . .President Obama our first Black President is in office," Fisher noted.
Pastor Fisher is a part of the positive transformation that Compton, known for violence and poverty, is striving toward and hopes their win will continue to increase his members' faith and change the stereotypical images about his home town..