Don Douglas / For the Sentinel The Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir Music Director Brandon Frazier celebrates as he is presented checks totaling $15,000 in the Verizon Wireless How Sweet the Sound competition Monday, earning the title of "The Gospel Choir in the Atlanta area." and the People's Choice Award.
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But those who listen to the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir may do a double take when they see the members of this predominately white church in Lithia Springs belt out gospel hits. The church choir is so talented that it won Verizon Wireless' How Sweet the Sound competition Monday, earning the title of "The Gospel Choir in the Atlanta area." The choir will go on to represent the Altanta area at the grand finale in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 4.
During the regional competition in Atlanta, the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir walked away with not only the title, but a cash prize of $10,000. The church choir also won the People's Choice Award and $5,000.
The first runner-up prize of $5,000 was awarded to Out For Souls, led by Cedric Sesley. The competition brought together six of the best church choirs across the region. The choir, which was the last to perform, gave its rendition of "Let Everything That Hath Breath" by Twinkie Clark-Terrell and the FAMU Choir.
Gospel celebrities judged, who added performances to the night's entertainment, judged and hosted the event. The evening was hosted by Grammy award-winning gospel legends Donald Lawrence and Yolanda Adams. Award-winning artists CeCe Winans, Hezekiah Walker, Erica Campbell and Fred Hammond served as judges.
In addition to competing, participating choirs were encouraged to collect and donate no-longer used wireless phones to HopeLine from Verizon. The choirs collected nearly 150 phones combined, and Anointed Voices received the HopeLine Champion Award for collecting the most phones. Verizon, through HopeLine, will award a $2,500 grant in support of a domestic violence program chosen by Anointed Voices.
The Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir is no stranger to winning, the choir actually won the title of "The Best Choir in America" during the 2009 competition. The church choir has performed at the Dove Awards and the Stellar Awards. The choir has also appeared on Good Morning America.
This year's prize money will go toward the costs of the live CD the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir recorded in 2010. The choir took a break from competing in 2010 and 2011 to concentrate on the recording then the release of the project.
"My pastor wanted us to try out again in 2012 so we did," Music Director Brandon Frazier said.
Frazier was "shocked and surprised" the choir won.
Source: Douglas County Sentinel