Sunday Best, Kirk Franklin’s competition for the gospel genre of music, returns to BET Sunday, July 19 with a brand new format. Season 8 premieres tonight by giving former contestants a second opportunity to win the crown and achieve their dreams of being a recording star. In times past, the show opened with fans witnessing several different auditions, but this season fans had the chance to vote for hopefuls from past seasons they wished to see again.
The rest of the series will be familiar to those who have been faithful viewers. Franklin returns as host and executive producer, gospel legend Kim Burrell will return as talent mentor and the judges from the season 7, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Kierra Sheard, will return to critique and encourage each performance. Although the gospel music competition is composed of repeat participants, the winner will still be announced based on winning votes from viewers. Franklin said:
It is all about giving people second chances. We just thought it would be really cool this season for people to have another opportunity to get close to their dreams. Many people do not get that opportunity? It turned out to be an incredible idea that the people really gravitated to.
The 45-year-old host believes the new format will be more entertaining for Sunday Best fans. By giving contestants a second chance, the intensity is guaranteed to be high with each singer bringing their “A” game with increased energy. The former contestants have had the opportunity to strengthen weaknesses and work on critiques received in the past.
Sheard, the youngest judge, is excited to return for another season. The 28-year-old singer felt as if her first season as a judge was like an audition to see if she would be a good fit, but to return confirms she made the cut. Sheard said:
It meant a lot to me because I always watched the show. So being considered a judge was something I had dreamed of, and it gives me a chance to display the Christ character to the world.
The ability to lovingly correct and critique people is what the new generation of church goers are searching for, according to Sheard. Sunday Best is challenging her to demonstrate Christ’s love while helping singers on the same path she was once on. Sheard said she is not only a fan of the televised competition but as a viewer voted for several of the contestants who will return for the 8th season of the show; Sheard feels blessed for the opportunity to help people. The young singer and daughter gospel legend, Karen Clark, has found her own voice by making waves in the industry. Sheard, who’s singing style is a reflection of the legendary Clark Sisters, said:
The hardest part of being a judge is we had to release people who are really singers. It was really hard letting contestants go that were so close to winning.
Franklin believes Sunday Best not only blesses the contestants but viewers as well. The producer said some feel like the show mirrors their church’s flavor of music and this is their way of staying connected to the experience of church. It is not just an entertaining show, people are drawn to it because it offers a reflection of Sunday morning worship, said Franklin.
With nothing but talented singers, this season will be a greater challenge for the judges and the contestants. The Sunday Best winner will not only be crowned but will receive a cash prize and the chance to win a recording contract with Franklin’s label, Fo Yo Soul. The returning contestants for Sunday Best will be announced on July 19 during the two-hour show which premieres at 8 p.m. ET on BET.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Christian Post: ‘Sunday Best’ Host Kirk Franklin, Judge Kierra Sheard Say New All-Star Season Is About Second Changes (Interview)
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