California Choir Wins How Sweet The Sound Finale Competition

Ed Laiscell | 11/16/2010, 12:35 a.m.
When all the votes were tallied, the Voices of Destiny choir from Greater...
(L-R) Judges Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard and Fred Hammond speak during Verizon's How Sweet The Sound 2010 Finale at the Verizon Center on November 13, 2010 in Washington, DC. Photo by Christopher Polk/WireImage for Verizon

When all the votes were tallied, the Voices of Destiny choir from Greater Zion Church Family in Compton, California walked away with the title of "Best Church Choir in America" at Verizon's How Sweet The Sound finale held Sat., Nov. 13 at the Verizon Center.

Choir Director and Rev. Michael Fisher, 39, lead the voice choir's performance of My Time For God's Favor (Presence of the Lord remix) that brought the sold-out crowd of 12,000 attendees to their feet. The choreography, diction, uniformity, and tremendous energy also captivated the judges - Pastor Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, and Fred Hammond.

When co-hosts CeCe Winans, and Donald Lawrence announced the winner, Fisher fell to his knees, with tears in his eyes and began to rejoicing. The choir received the grand prize check for $25,000, along with opportunities to perform at the Stellar Awards and the Super Bowl in 2011. Multi-colored confetti rained on Pastor Fisher and the members of the 14 choirs who competed in the three-hour long final competition.

The GFC Chorale of the Greater First Church of East Chicago, Illinois was the runner-up and received a cash prize of $15,000.

During the grand finale, audience members were asked to text their votes for their favorite choir to help decide the Verizon Wireless V CAST People's Choice Award. The Men of Valor of Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., the hometown favorite, won and received a check for $5,000.

Fisher used one word to describe his emotions. "Grateful," he said, as he and other choir members spoke to the media after receiving their awards. When asked what he would do with the winnings, Pastor Fisher said the church plans on building a youth center in the heart of Compton in Los Angeles, where his 3,000-member church is located.

"I think tonight was dynamic," said Alice Hicks, who traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to watch the finals. "When I consider the rehearsal time that goes into this, the things that go on behind the scenes, I think it [the program] was excellent."

Gospel recording artist Ricky Dillard said the performances were "a phenomenal expression of gospel." Noting that the finalists came to the District from 14 states across the country, Dillard said, gospel choirs "are here for the long haul; for the time God has called us to do this. As it was in the time of David, the choirs are still singing today. It was an awesome experience."

Jacqueline Sellers, of D.C., used the term "excellent," to describe her enjoyment of the performances. "I just like the way they just praised the Lord in so many forms and fashions. It was just marvelous how so many people have so many different expressions, but it's all praising the Lord," she said.

Saturday's evening finale also featured performances by Sapp, Sheard, Hammond, and special guest artist Bebe Winans, who performed a duet with his sister, CeCe.

"During the past three years, Verizon's How Sweet the Sound has brought families and communities together for an uplifting singing competition," said Elva Lima, executive director of community relations and multicultural communications, Verizon Wireless.

"We congratulate Voices of Destiny choir and recognize the amazing talent of all the choirs in the competition. Verizon's How Sweet the Sound is an opportunity to celebrate the unique ways that music connects people and we are proud to share it with customers and fans."