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Taraji P. Henson replaces Steve Harvey Celebration of Gospel host

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It's out with the old, in with the new!

R&B and Gospel stars will raise the praise together for the 14th year at BET’s Celebration of Gospel with a new host. After being the sole host for the last 13 consecutive years, Family Feud's Steve Harvey has passed the mic to Academy Awards nominated actress Taraji P. Henson (Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, Curios Case of Benjamin Button).

"I am thrilled to join the BET “Celebration of Gospel” family. I look forward to a great evening of incredible music and continuing the rich history of BET and gospel music which started 14 years ago hosted by the talented and very funny Steve Harvey," said Henson.

Henson will follow years of Harvey's side-cracking humor about growing up in the church. As comedians often do, Harvey also addressed more serious matters during commercial breaks. The former host, a "King of Comedy" called out high brow Christians who seemed to doubt his salvation and forget they too were sinners. His complaints about having to tame his tongue around church folks fell on deaf ears. Often during the show Harvey used his comedic skills to keep the audience alert during the 2-3 hour recording.

Over the years, Steve Harvey served Celebration fo Gospel well and his pay off was a closer walk with Jesus. In a tearful moment Harvey once said years of hosting the show and interacting with gospel artists drew him closer to God. Known for dressing sharply in his Sunday Best, Harvey shared the testimony of his Christian journey as a guest on TBN and teamed up with his long-time friend Kirk Franklin on a gospel/comedy tour in 2011.

The reason for Harvey's departure was not given, but it may be related to the demands of his growing multimedia empire. The many-faceted entertainer is the host of The Steve Harvey Morning show on radio, The Steve Harvey Show on TV, and the best-selling author of "Act Like A Woman and Think Like a Man", which inspired the hit movie "Think Like A Man" in which Henson co-starred.

Now that it's Henson's turn, will she deliver?

As the network reimagines one of its most viewed programs, at bet.com they say Henson's effervescent personality and quick wit are a few qualities that make her a perfect fit for the job.

The spirit lifting performances and the magic that seems to happen when singers return to their roots has always been the muscle of the show., not the host alone. but the role is important. A D.C. native and Howard University theater alum, Henson has already proven she knows how to "hustle and flow" and I'm looking forward to seeing her hosting skills.

But, more that anything else, I'm excited to see the stellar collaborations that are in store.

This year, “Celebration of Gospel” will feature even more captivating pairings between gospel and R&B artists including “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard, “Sunday Best” winner LeAndria Johnson, and soulful croonerKem, who will join forces to raise the praise as a triumphant trio. Acoustic soul artist India.Arie will team up with Christian contemporary artist Jonathan McReynolds for a special performance. Female R&B group SWV and the renowned Rance Allen Group will also join together to anoint the crowd through song.

Celebration of Gospel will be recorded tonight, March 15 at the Orpheum Theatre and air on BET on April 6.

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