As finalist choirs from across the country prepare to perform for sold-out audiences and some of the biggest names in gospel music at Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound competition, they have an unlikely champion in GRAMMY®-nominated artist Tamela Mann. Mann, who joins the gospel music competition this year as a judge, recalls the first time she had the opportunity to perform for one of her music heroes.
She was 12 years old when she sang at a workshop for gospel legend Dr. Mattie Moss Clark and an audience of 1,500 people. “I was nervous, but it was a big thing for me,” she said. “It makes people feel special to be able to perform in front of people they love. It’s important to them and to me.”
This year, more than 40 church and community choirs are preparing to sing for Mann and fellow judges Hezekiah Walker and VaShawn Mitchell and hosts Donald Lawrence and Yolanda Adams. The choirs are competing for a chance to win a How Sweet the Sound/eOne music recording contract, up to $50,000 in cash and prizes, and the title “America’s Best Gospel Choir.”
And as the choirs prepare to make their debut on the How Sweet the Sound stage, Mann says that in addition to practicing, each choir member should prepare themselves mentally and spiritually. “You have to bring your whole heart and being into your performance,” she said. “It’s about inspiration and spreading the good news, so that when people leave, they take something with them.”
Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound competition is in its sixth year and will travel to seven cities across the country, including New Orleans, Dallas, Baltimore, New York, Detroit, Chicago and Atlanta.