The trucks arrived in Detroit around 6 Saturday morning to transform Joe Louis Arena into the largest gospel stage in Michigan. After stops in Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, DC, Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound gospel competition was finally here in Detroit, with only hours to prepare for a run through and 7:00p start time.

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Staging the production.

The show is huge and designed to showcase regional choirs. The winner from each city will then compete in Los Angeles for a grand prize totaling $30,000!  I was invited to participate in the Detroit version of How Sweet the Sound. This gave me backstage access to some of the incredible gospel greats recording today.

Talking with CeCe Winans!

In addition to her music, Michigan native CeCe Winans is currently devoting time to empowering young people.  You can find out more about her organization: Always Sisters, Forever Brothers, here.  As co-host of How Sweet the Sound, CeCe was looking forward to coming home. “Some of the best artists and musicians come from Detroit..I want to see them shine.”

Gospel Superstar CeCe Winans!

Former Mumford High grad Fred Hammond agreed with CeCe: “The bottom line here (in Detroit) is the song is coming from different levels, from an understanding of struggle. There’s a different level of praise and worship crying out to God that you won’t hear in other cities.”

Gospel great Fred Hammond was one of the judges.

In the excitement backstage, show time seemed to come quickly. I was handed a script and given final instructions on where to stand. Everything was by the minute, just like in television!

Getting ready to go on stage.

Stage managers Jeff and Bruce were excellent and kept the show running smoothly.

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Backstage at the Joe with Jeff and Bruce.

Changing out of my jeans, I took the final walk down to the arena stage accompanied by the efficient and super nice Rebecca.

Rebecca kept me on time! Thank you!

The walk to the stage.

Co-host Donald Lawrence welcomed me on stage, what a rush to stand in front of thousands of people! I introduced Oakland Christian Academy Concert Choir and with that, I joined the audience to watch the rest of the production!

Thousands of Detroiters love gospel music.

The music was positive, energetic, soothing.  I rooted for all the choirs, but the night’s big winner and regional representative was The Anointed Voices of Higher Ground Choir out of Columbus, Ohio.

The big winner!

What a night!

Awarding the prizes!

To follow the competition’s progress and for highlights of How Sweet the Sound in all the cities, click here.

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