Gospel music contest showcases sweet sound


What: “How Sweet the Sound”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, One Center Court, Cleveland

Tickets: $5 to $7

Info: Call 888-894-9424 or visit theQarena.com

Place:Quicken Loans Arena

1 Center Court, Cleveland, OH

By John Benson


Christian singer CeCe Winans will be the first to tell you the sounds and music heard during the Gospel music competition “How Sweet the Sound,” which comes to Northeast Ohio on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena, are straight from heaven.

“Gospel music is, of course, the greatest music ever, and the foundation of it is choirs, so just to see the talent and excellent presentation is an uplifting event,” said Winans, who is hosting the “How Sweet the Sound” show.

“It’s something that everybody should experience. I’m glad to be part of it because it’s positive and it’s powerful. It’s a choir competition, but it’s really just a praise event as far as I’m concerned. I see it as something where people are coming and getting critiqued and leaving better than when they came. It’s great music every night. I think we’re getting the cream of the crop in most cases.”

Started three years ago, the 2010 “How Sweet the Sound” is a national gospel-choir competition visiting 14 different markets with each city’s winners competing in the finale Nov. 13 in Washington D.C.

Up for grabs is $50,000 in cash and prizes, as well as the prestigious tag of “The Best Church Choir in America.”

Cleveland’s show includes Winans, producer-arranger-music director Donald Lawrence as the tour emcee, with Marvin Sapp and James Fortune judging.

The choir lineup is divided into two competitions. The Few Voices Category includes Mount Moriah Choir of Lincoln Heights, Ohio, Elim Sanctuary Choir of Rochester, N.Y., Help From God of Cleveland and The Pastor’s Choir. The Many Voices Category features Calvary Sanctuary Choir of Cincinnati) and The Choir of Cypress Church of Galloway, Ohio).

Gospel choirs are nothing new to Winans, who growing up was inspired by church music. She began performing decades ago with nine other singing siblings in Detroit.

Originally a member of the PTL singers, Winans began recording with her brother BeBe — as BeBe & CeCe — in the late ’80s, becoming one of the more popular gospel acts around. In the mid-’90s, the Grammy and Dove Award-winning platinum artist went solo and hasn’t looked back. In fact, next week she releases a new greatest-hits album, which includes the unreleased “More.”

The 45-year-old singer said she’ll be performing the new song in a medley of her more popular tracks during the “How Sweet the Sound” show.

What’s new for Winans this year is she’ll be hosting instead of judging. So did she enjoy her stint arbitrating the talent?

“I did, but the talent is really awesome,” said Winans, calling from Newark, N.J. “So even though the winner is determined by the audience, it’s still a pretty rough thing to judge because the people are so talented. So I’m enjoying being a co-host. It’s a lot more fun; it’s a lot lighter.”

It appears this time out Winans is more Ryan Seacrest and less Simon Cowell.

“Yeah,” Winans said laughing. “I guess you could say that.SDRq

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