Anyone looking for a dose of lifting faith beyond the 45-minute sermon on Sunday morning should tune in to BET’s “Sunday Best.” The Season 7 finale airs in a two-hour soul-stirring spectacular next Sunday, and this week, finalists Candace Benson and Geoffrey Golden showed that what sets them apart is passionate ministry far above stellar voices.
Host and modern gospel giant, Kirk Franklin, reminds viewers each week that the competition exists to glorify God, above mere entertainment, and its motto is “Many are called, one is chosen” in a slight paraphrase of Scripture. This week’s intent was to give faithful viewers a true view of the final two singers of the season, one so strong that the Season 13 “American Idol” Hollywood Week finalist, Tiquila Wilson, called “Queen T” already in the gospel contest, was eliminated last week in a wrenching Top 3 cut in the final moments. Both in range and performance, the bar consistently rose from fellow contenders like Brightnie Jones, too, particularly on “God Blocked It” last week.
The evening opened with Season 3 “Sunday Best” winner, Le’Andria Johnson, Mississippi Mass Choir for “God Is on Your Side.” Johnson has just signed a new deal with RCA Inspiration. The introspective mood continued with Benson, a Pottstown, Pennsylvania pastor's daughter, putting a bluesy spin to Mary Mary's “Yesterday,” before Golden’s rejoicing “Glory to Glory” from Fred Hammond. Both were praised for bringing true ministry to the night, and that component was only amplified with a guest performance from Micah Stampley of “Our God.” The entire audience was transported in worship by Cleveland native, Golden’s next offering, done with his own arrangement, of Walter Hawkins’ “Marvelous” which was followed by heartfelt words of an altar call from the 20-year-old pastor’s son. The spirit could not be denied as dance ignited onstage and through the audience, with Candace joining Geoffrey in spiritual stepping in an unforgettable moment of unity not seen in any other realm of talent TV. All of the judges were moved to utter awe, and even tears, but newest judge, Kierra Sheard, offered purest praise. “You have introduced everyone to the God you know,” she related, and cried with how “desperately in need” “our generation” (Sheard is 26) is to know the love of a real God. Judges Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams said there was nothing more to say “not a word,” after that. A last, quiet yet ever so compelling performance by Benson closed the evening with Matt Redman's “Heart of Worship,” marked with another original arrangement.
“Don’t lose it!” Sheard pleaded to the finalists, referring to their passion to bring Jesus to a new generation by their passion. Now, the final decision rests with America's votes, and no one watching these kind of performers could walk away unmoved. Voting is unlimited online, and toll-free by telephone. Next week will be the revelation of the numbers, but both these performers have been refreshing revelations in faith for youth of today and beyond.
Additional source: “Sunday Best” broadcast, August 24, 2014 BET Networks.