We’re finally getting official music from RCA Inspiration’sLatice Crawford!
Latice was a fan fave on season two of BET’s Sunday Best. She was signed to RCA Inspiration a couple of years back and we’ve been eagerly awaiting her new music since then. No word on when the full album will hit stores, but in the meantime…
We’re happy to share the new single, “There,” on the Pundit Player!
Over the past months, there have been some significant changes at Verity Gospel Music Group, most notably the departure of its leader, Jazzy Jordan, and the appointment of Geo Bivins as the gospel label’s new General Manager. In addition, Stanley Brown
was promoted to Head of A&R and Cheryl Marks was promoted to
Today, the label announced that it has formally changed its name– Verity Gospel Music Group will now be known as RCA Inspiration. The label plans to release several projects this year, including Fred Hammond’s new group venture, United Tenors (with Dave Hollister, Brian Courtney Wilson and Eric Roberson) and a debut album from BET’s Sunday Best audience favorite Latice Crawford.
Aside from the name change, Bivins indicates the RCA Inspiration will carry on the legacy of excellence and great music
Word has it that Latice Crawford, runner-up of Season 2 of BET’s Sunday Best, has signed a recording contract with Verity.
I’m glad she found a label home. Her Sunday Best-mates, winner Y’Anna Crawley and runner-up Jessica Reedy, have done quite well for themselves. Latice’s voice was always dope, too… I’m excited to hear the tunes.
Troy Lilly has HELD IT DOWN for the past several weeks, writing awesome recap after awesome recap of BET’s nationwide talent competition Sunday Best. What better way to discuss the season finale at GospelPundit.com than in Troy’s own words? Without any delay, here’s Troy Lilly…
* * *
It’s official – the people have spoken and the results are in.
LeAndria Johnson is the winner of BET’s Sunday Best for season three. Thousands from around the country auditioned, but in the end there could be only one. She won the title after viewers like you took to the Web and phone lines, casting votes online and via telephone and text.
She will receive a national recording contract and a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO.
But she didn’t have time to get caught up in celebrating. Immediately after she was named the winner, LeAndria debuted her first original song, “I Shall Leap Into My Destiny.” Sounds like she’s ready to leap forth into her new recording career.
LeAndria beat out the unlikeliest Sunday Best contestant yet, 79-year-old Elder Goldwire McLendon. Elder McLendon defied the myth that you have to be young to win a singing competition, and that age works against you. He showed that his seven decades of experience only helped him. That, and the anointing.
The show was awesome, too. The theme for the evening was “seasons.” Host Kirk Franklin said there’s a time for weeping. “A time to weep a time to laugh and a time to sing.”
Representing the East Coast, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir opened the finale with their ubiquitous choir-favorite “Souled Out.” Choir members appeared in the audience and ran up on stage with Hezekiah Walker. They really got the house rockin’.
Each of the contestants performed a medley of songs that comprised their best showing during the competition.
LeAndria Johnson sang, “I Love the Lord,” “He Was There All the Time,” and “In the Midst of It All.”
Asked why she sings they way she does, LeAndria simply answered, “pain!” Before coming to Sunday Best she lost her house. In the audition she wore flip-flops and socks because that’s all she could find. She said at one point she had chosen death over life. But one song got her through: Yolanda Adams’ “In the Midst of It All. How ironic that she also sang it during the show. Yolanda was honored and said she feels the pain, but more importantly, the victory of LeAndria.
Elder Goldwire McLendon began singing a few bars of “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” with barely any music, and moved right into “The Battle Is The Lord’s,” another Yolanda song. He finished up with a characteristically energetic rendition of “He’s Keeping Me Alive.”
One week before Elder McLendon auditioned for Sunday Best he heard God say he was moving into a new season of his life. “God will set you up if you stay in His will,” Elder McLendon said. Throughout the competition, it seemed like Elder McLendon had been set up by God to win. And he was certainly a worthy contender. Judge Tina Campbell said, “every time I experience you I experience the God that you love and live for.
Season Two mentor Donald Lawrence returned with a few special guests to showcase his quintessential hits. Season two contestants, Jessica Reedy and Latice Crawford, sang “Seasons,” and “Encourage Yourself” respectively. And Season Two winner, Y’Anna Crawley, sang a stripped-down version of “The Blessing of Abraham.” Together, they did a few bars of “Let the Word Do the Work.”
But no one could have prepared for the special treat that came next.
God answered my personal prayer and this year’s mentor, Kim Burrell, FINALLY performed. And the wait was so worth it. She remixed “Oh, Lord” from her Everlasting Life album, freestyling the words up to recognize Sunday Best contestants Martha Buries, Dathan Thigpen, Tiffany Carlin-Laird and Orlando Wright. Her musical acumen is undeniable and reaches across so many genres. I would go as far to say she’s the finest gospel-jazz singer of our time.
In addition to the prizes given to the winner and runner-up, Kirk presented a generous donation of $30,000 on behalf of BET to the New Orleans’s Ellis Marsalis Center for Music. New Orleans native and saxophonist Calvin Johnson was the featured local musician this week.
Season three of Sunday Best will go down in the books as a competition that redefined what a contestant should look like. It also showed, yet again, that the power of gospel music has no limit, and the healing power can often touch the person who sings it as much as those who hear it.
LeAndria Johnson’s win this year was a triumph over the competition, but equally a triumph in her personal life. As Kim Burrell warned her, she’ll have to start preparing for life as LeAndria “after the fact.”
* * *
Great recap, Troy. Thanks!
NOW, what are we gonna do on Sunday evenings?!
Leave a comment and lemme know what you folks liked/disliked about the season finale! And what do you think about how it all turned out?!
Most of you know me as a gospel music fan and blogger. And that’s me. But by trade, some know me as an attorney. And that’s me, too.
So, for a moment, I’m swapping my blogger hat for my attorney hat to simply caution all of you would-be Sunday Best auditioners… be VERY CAREFUL of anything you sign as you go to audition for the hit gospel talent competition.
DISCLAIMER: Legal information is distinct from legal advice. The commentary that follows is not intended, in any way, to serve as legal advice. If you desire legal counsel and assurance, you are advised to consult a competent attorney.
First, please know that what I’m about to say is in NO WAY intended to slight BET or the Sunday Best program. Their legal requirements are generally similar to other televised talent competitions and many of the things that viewers and auditioners might consider “unfair,” are merely protections that the network and the program’s producers need, and deserve, to have in place.
With that said, I’m going to speak GENERALLY about how some of the agreements at televised talent competitions, such as Sunday Best, American Idol and Gospel Dream, operate. This info is not necessarily applicable to each televised talent contest.
Here we go:
1. You’ll HAVE TO sign it. Please understand that when you audition for a show, you will be required to sign a binding legal agreement. I’m not talking about just before the finals– I’m talking about while you’re standing in line with thousands of folks. If you don’t sign something, you’re not auditioning. Period.
2. When you sign, you’ll be giving your CONSENT to a lot of stuff. Most folks don’t care about this. At the preliminary stage, you’ll just be consenting to have your image, likeness, singing voice, etc. on TV. How else is America supposed to laugh at you or applaud you if you make it to the judges? Basically, you’re consenting to be on the show WITHOUT PAY. And the show can edit, manipulate and use the images and sounds that they get from you in any way they choose (even if it makes you look like a heathen). Further, the show owns, and can use, this footage any way it wants, FOREVER.
3. You might not be able to sing, dress or act like you want to. How many times have we heard “wrong song choice” from the judges? Or how many times have you sat at home and said “why is she singing THAT?!” Well, sometimes, it’s not really up to the contestants. Remember when I interviewed a bunch of the Sunday Best finalists last year? Several of them mentioned that they didn’t get to pick their songs at all. And let’s not forget about the mandatory makeovers. A good one can be anybody’s friend, but don’t start fussin’ about “holiness” if they color your hair and dress you like a lounge singer. This is what you wanted.
4. You might get a MANAGER that you don’t want. Some shows, within that early agreement, make contestants agree that they can be managed by a manager of the show’s choosing. This is particularly rough if you’re already working as an aspiring artist and you’ve already got a manager– you might have to drop him/her and end up having your career guided by a total stranger.
5. Some shows bind you to a RECORD DEAL. Many of you have asked me why Jessica Reedy doesn’t have a record deal yet. Here’s why… BET may have temporarily taken away her right to do so. Take a look at the Sunday Best release from this year’s auditions in Nigeria (click here) as an example… there’s a clause that says “if my appearance, name, likeness, voice, singing voice… are used in connection with the Program, I may be required… to enter into… an agreement for my exclusive recording services which may include an agreement for my exclusive songwriting services…” OUCH!
In effect, it says “in order to appear on the show, I may be required to sign a record deal.” So, you ask me “but, with what label?” Here’s the kicker– with BET’s “record label.”
Now, you and I both know that they don’t really have a gospel label, but look at the beauty of this clause for them. If a contestant is good, and has a huge fan following from the show, BET gets the FIRST opportunity to sign that artist to a label that it has, or will create. For how long? Let’s just say that I have spoken personally to a former contestant from last season who is STILL not allowed to sign a record deal. But we’re already getting ready to tape a new season!
Actually, I should amend that… BET will allow you to sign with another label, but only if they can split the profits with that label. Or maybe the new label will have to pay to buy you out. How much? Dunno exactly, but I can guarantee it’ll be too much for ANY gospel label to pay and still make a profit from your record sales. So, you might just have to wait it out and hope that people still remember you, or care about you, once the contract is up…
6. Some shows bind you to a SONGWRITING DEAL, too. This is where it can really hurt financially. In the same Sunday Best release I referenced above, did you notice the language that says “which may include an agreement for my exclusive songwriting services”? When you sign an agreement for your songwriting services, it generally means you’re gonna lose some, or all, of your publishing rights. Publishing rights refer to song OWNERSHIP, so you can count on losing some, or all, of the money from songs you may write after signing this agreement, IF you are signed to a songwriting agreement.
Note, also, the buzz-word “exclusive.” That’s right, buddies… exclusive means you can’t do a similar contract with ANYONE else. If you’re a writer, that means you can’t write for anyone else without BET taking a percentage of that songwriting money, because they’re part owners of any song that you write while under that exclusive songwriting contract. In the gospel industry, where so many artists write their own material, this could have a significant effect on your career and the money that you bring in from it.
7. You may be sharing your income for a while. In addition to recording and songwriting deals, some shows may take bites of every apple you can get your hands on, for years to come. From merchandising (like, a T-shirt with your picture on it) to touring revenue (if you’re so fortunate), the contract you sign MAY require you split the profits from any money-making opportunities you get as a result of your appearance on the show… and how are you REALLY gonna prove that your future success isn’t linked to your appearance on their national television program?
8. You might have to be where they want you, when they want you. Your cousin is gettin’ married the same weekend of an American Idol tour date? Sorry, you’ll have to miss your cousin’s wedding. Your goddaughter is getting baptized next Saturday? Yeah, well, that’s the taping of Celebration Of Gospel and we’re gonna need you in the audience for camera shots, soo… yeah. Catch my drift? The network doesn’t just get access to you for its show– it needs you to promote all things related to the show. If you’re trying to be an artist, that may be great for you. But don’t complain… this is what you wanted!
9. And don’t go using their name or logo, either. Funny how one-sided things can be– they can use your picture and name to promote their stuff, but don’t think for a MINUTE that you can use their logo or title to promote yours. To do that, you’ve gotta get consent from the network. It makes sense, I guess– they want to control how their brand is being used and discussed. What that means, though, is that it’s harder for you to book yourself for gigs or promote your independent record (you can’t necessarily say “from Sunday Best” or “from American Idol“). Unless you were incredibly memorable, most consumers need a reminder of who you are and why they should care. You may not get permission to GIVE that reminder, though.
10. You have only a moment to decide. This is, perhaps, the hardest part of the contract– you must commit, and commit QUICKLY. Eventually, the only thing standing between you and the judges’ table will be a wordy document that you don’t really understand. No one’s really waiting while you find an attorney and fax him your contract to review… either sign it, or leave. You won’t really be missed. Plus, this is your big shot. The shows are prepared to dress you up and put you on national TV to sing! But, decide now– what are you prepared to do in exchange???
Sooooo, I hope this helps to explain what some of the language you might see actually means. Again, NOTHING I HAVE SAID IS INTENDED TO SERVE AS LEGAL ADVICE. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL LEGAL COUNSEL WITH REGARDS TO ANYTHING YOU MIGHT SIGN. And that goes DOUBLE for anyone who makes it from the massive audition line to the televised stage.
Now, having said all of that, who’s auditioning???
Dunno if you knew it, but Sunday Best contestants Latice Crawford and Jeff Spain met during the nationwide talent competition and have been inseparable ever since.
Now, not only are they getting married, but BET is giving them their own reality show, Almost Married, chronicling their relationship and leading up to the big day! The show will premiere THIS SUMMER… I’ll keep you updated on airdates and times.
I think it’s great that they found love, but having recently gotten married, I dunno that I’d want a camera following me around during an already STRESSFUL time like that. My wife raised a good point, too– not only is it all on film, but the nation is gonna feel entitled to COMMENT on every aspect of their budding relationship. I pray that their relationship can withstand that type of pressure… cuz it’s NO JOKE.
Aside from the actual taping of the Stellar Awards, folks eagerly anticipate the BMI Trailblazers Awards each year. In fact, people often say that the BMI event features greater and more memorable performances than the Stellar Awards taping, though, this year… that MIGHT not be the case… I’m gonna call it a TIE!
In any case, BMI annually honors folks in gospel who’ve made significant contributions to the genre. This year, Donnie McClurkin and Andraé Crouch were honored. The celebration consists of a great lunch and some incredible tribute performances. It went a lil’ something like this…
Before the honoring went down, Dorinda Clark-Cole came to the stage to perform her hit single “Take It Back,” which received a BMI Song Of The Year award (songwriter, Derrick Starks). You already know that Dorinda brings it like none other and I was on my feet before I could even finish my salad.
Following that, we got a surprise performance from Jessica Reedy, who sang “God Has Smiled On Me” like a seasoned professional. She really holds her own in this game and it’s great to see how welcoming the industry is of her.
The vocal production for the afternoon came from the incomparable Donald Lawrence and DeWayne Woods. In the background– Tobi Darks, Dawn Jordan, San Franklin, Latrice Pace, Blanche McAllister and Anita Wilson. YES! The band– Joe Wilson on keys, Stanley Brown on organ, Kevin Stancil on bass, Jonathan DuBose on guitar, Marvin McQuitty on drums and Lloyd Barry on horns. GOOD LORD!
The formal program began with the tribute performances to Donnie McClurkin, hosted by Byron Cage. The background vocalists did a snippet of “That’s What I Believe” before Latice Crawford came to deliver her rendition of “I Call You Faithful.” After that, Micah Stampley sang his heart out on “Speak To My Heart.” McClurkin’s best friend and pastor, Marvin Winans, set the room ablaze with his performance of “Stand” (for which he also brought up BeBe Winans) before Yolanda Adams came to the stage to perform “We Fall Down.”
The McClurkin tribute performances were great, but I wish they had done some more songs for him– they could’ve dug a little deeper into the New York Restoration Choir days, pulled some more tracks from the Live In London album, or even focused a little more on songs that he’s written for other artists (like, “This Is The Gospel Of Jesus Christ” for Hezekiah Walker or “It Is To You” by Byron Cage). Still, awesome job and I’m glad he was honored for his great contributions to the game.
After McClurkin accepted his award, it was on to the Andraé Crouch tribute, which was hosted by Yolanda Adams. First, Donald Lawrence led the singers in a mindblowing medley of classic Crouch tunes including “Right Now” (led by Blanche McAllister), “Quiet Time,” “Soon And Very Soon”… it was just incredible.
Up next was the one and only Táta Vega, a longtime friend of, and singer with, Andraé Crouch. She did an intro of “Speak Lord,” (which she recorded for The Color Purple decades ago) before transitioning into a soul-stirring performance of “Oh It Is Jesus.” It was at THAT moment that the atmosphere of the entire room shifted from tribute to worship, and the event wasn’t the same again.
After that, Yolanda Adams couldn’t even regain her composure to introduce the next performance– BeBe & CeCe Winans singing “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.” They just came on stage and took us to new heights, followed by Mary Mary’s staggering performance of “We Are Not Ashamed.”
Finally, Marvin Winans returned to the stage and shared some great stories about how instrumental Crouch was to the career of The Winans, even down to changing their stage name from “The Testimonial Singers” to simply, “The Winans” (thank God!). He wrapped his segment with a performance of “Jesus Is Lord,” for which he simply had to call the legendary Karen Clark Sheard to the stage!
Andraé Crouch accepted his award and shared how he had been recently diagnosed with diabetes. His doctors wanted to amputate his toe after discovering a large hole in it, but he shared that he had been miraculously healed! He asks for continued prayer from the industry… great speech.
Finally, Marvin Winans led an impromptu segment of EVERYONE singing some classic Crouch songs that weren’t even on the program. He called up Shirley Caesar, J Moss, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin… there are no words!
That’s that, essentially. Dunno how much of it will make the edited televised program, but look for it on February 21st on Gospel Music Channel. I’ll remind you as the time comes closer!
Word has it that Yolanda Adams and Byron Cage will be co-hosting BMI’s annual Trailblazers Awards this weekend in Nashville, during Stellar Awards weekend.
According to my buddy, Torrence Glenn at BET.com, the performers slated to honor Donnie McClurkin and Andraé Crouch at the event have also been announced. They include Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Micah Stampley, Latice Crawford, Marvin Winans, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Mary Mary, Tata Vega… WOWWWWZERS.
Can you tell that this luncheon is gonna be BANANAS?! Tryna figure out if I’m gonna tweet from the event… I think I may be too distracted. LOL
Fortunately for all of you can’t attend, I think they’re taping it for TV again, so you can probably catch it later on Gospel Music Channel or something.
When the second season of BET’sSunday Best was on, I made it abundantly clear that my favorite contestant was Jessica Reedy. Never get it twisted, though– I also looooove the voices and ministries of several of the other contestants, like (of course) winner Y’Anna Crawley, Latice Crawford, Dontavies Boatwright, John John, Camille Betton… but from jump, Jess just… shocked me.
And I wasn’t alone cuz I know a bunch of y’all adore her, too… which is why I reached out and said “let’s talk again and tell the people what you’ve been up to!” So, here we are!
Friends, here’s our buddy, Jessica Reedy:
* * *
EJ: How have you been, sister?!
JR: I’ve been wonderful! I really have.
EJ: You sound happy.
JR: Thank you. I am!
EJ: I’m so glad to be chattin’ with you. Last time we talked for the website, you were in total shock over the fact that so many people enjoyed you so much. You still amazed?
JR: I’m still shocked. I’m shocked that people still remember me.
EJ: Still remember you?! It was only four months ago.
JR: Yeah, but there’s so much new stuff going on. And I don’t have anything out to keep your mind refreshed, so it still amazes me.
EJ: I hear that. I wanna re-visit Sunday Best for just a quick second. The night of the finale, you’re at home with your family in Saginaw, watching the whole thing. Did you know the results before Kirk Franklin announced them?
JR: No, I didn’t. They taped two endings, so me and Yannie both were waiting to see which ending they played.
EJ: Yep. I dunno if you saw the blogs and heard the commentary on radio, but fans of the show lashed out at BET. They thought the competition was rigged, they said the finale wasn’t good, they said the results were known before that night, but you’re saying that the first time you heard anything was with the rest of the nation?
JR: The first time I heard anything. And the crazy thing is that the local news decided to be at my house, to catch my first reaction. I had no clue. What we did know was who would be the last two, but once we got home, that was it. We didn’t know anything else.
EJ: Okay. So, you didn’t know what would happen… Kirk announces Y’Anna as the winner. What was your immediate reaction?
JR: I told Yannie this– I knew God had blessed me, but I sort of expected my flesh to be a sore loser. I had no bad feelings… I was so happy for her, to the point that it shocked me AND my family.
JR: But I had no kind of bad feelings because I knew how good God had been to me already. And to feel something stupid like that would be such an insult to God, in my opinion. And it shocked the heck outta me– all I could do was smile.
And my cousin was like “it’s alright,” and I was like “it IS alright.” *laughing*
EJ: You’re a good-hearted person. I dunno if everyone would be as kind about that.
JR: I couldn’t find another person who is more deserving. She’s a kind-hearted person. You know, she has two kids. She has a boy, in a minute, he’ll be in college. And here I am, I just turned 21. At the time, I was 20 years old. God has so much more for me than I can even imagine. Yannie’s what…32? Lord, bless HER. I’ll take the backseat– I can’t believe I’m in the top 2 anyway, so I’ll take that. I don’t mind.
EJ: And the beauty of televised competitions like Sunday Best is that, once you’re in the top two, each finalist is pretty much set to get SOMETHING.
People haven’t heard too much about you on a NATIONAL scale since Sunday Best ended, but I know that you’ve been quite busy– tell us what you’ve been up to.
JR: Awww, man. God’s been good. He’s been telling people to call me! *laughs*
EJ: *laughing* Yep!
JR: He’s been giving people a desire to wanna hear me some more, so churches have been calling me, pastors… just people who want me to come to anything they might be having.
They fly me out, which is amazing! It’s like… God will bless me like THAT?! I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I can’t believe it because singing is something I do all the time. And you wanna pay me to come and do it?!
EJ: That’s awesome.
JR: And I’m grateful. They do more than they have to… they’ll say “do you want to go to the movies,” or “do you want to go shopping?” I’m like “wow,” and my manager reminds me “they don’t do this for everybody.” So, it’s another confirmation from God, like “Jessica, you’re on the right track.”
EJ: Ok, so the big question that’s on everyone’s mind– when can we expect some music from you?
JR: Okay. Now, I’m working extremely hard to get some leniency on my contracts. Right now, I cannot record.
EJ: You can’t record because of your contract with BET?
JR: Nothing. Right now, they’re allowing me to travel, but that’s all I can do. So, I’m praying!
EJ: Well, I’ll make sure we get to prayin’ too! Because people want something. Badly.
JR: Really? See, that’s amazing to me!
EJ: Oh, absolutely. Folks are going crazy over the few YouTube videos of you that are up.
JR: Oh my goodness. Honestly, I look at all of this as a blessing in disguise. God won’t leave me. He reminds me “Jessica, I brought you from the bottom and raised you to runner-up, among thousands.”
And this down time has gotten me to a point where my relationship with the Lord has grown even more. It’s making me find more within myself, even creative ideas, so that when I do get out of the contract, I’ll know what I want to do.
EJ: True. And this is good down time. I often think of “down time” as an awesome time for God to prepare us and work on our character, work on those things we didn’t even know were issues.
EJ: Do me a favor, and I think I speak for all of your supporters. TRY YOUR BEST to re-make Kirk’s “Brighter Day” for your debut album, with the same arrangement that you had on Sunday Best.
EJ: I’m serious. Cuz we NEED to be able to listen to that whenever we want it. Deal?
JR: That’s a deal. I promise.
But you know what? There’s a compilation album that we all did– the top 10. And that’s the song that they chose for me to do on the album. It’s not the exact arrangement, but it’s sweet… it’s nice. I honestly like the original arrangement that I did on the show, though.
EJ: That’s what you HAVE to do. And if you have to go back to watch the YouTube clips so you can remember what you did, do that.
EJ: *laughing* Okay, let’s see… you’re on Twitter now, so people can connect with you socially there (http://www.twitter.com/jessicareedy). But how can people book you if they want to get you for an event?
JR: Contact my manager, Phil Thorton, at 323-937-3700. And email firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll get a response in NO time, I promise. I won’t make people wait. I’ve got no time to waste. *laughing*
EJ: Well, you already know that I think the world of you and your voice. I continue to wish you all the best. I appreciate you, sis. Thanks for touching base.
JR: Thank you. I really appreciate this, EJ.
EJ: No doubt. And we’ll talk soon.
JR: Okay then. You take care.
EJ: You too. Bye-bye.
* * *
Ain’t that crazy that she’s locked into her contract and can’t record for us the glory of God?! Geeeeez. But it’s great to know that she’s doing well and making the most of her time, giggin’ and what not. Good job!
Oh, and just for kicks, here’s that awesome performance of “Brighter Day” that we all loved so much: