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Sunday Best, BET’s gospel singing competition, is coming back this summer

Sunday Best, BET’s gospel singing competition, is coming back this summer
Sunday Best season 8 winner Dathon Thigpen. The show is returning for a ninth season. (Photo by Eli Adé/BET)

BET is resurrecting the gospel singing competition Sunday Best for what will be its ninth season. The show was cancelled in 2015 after eight seasons.

The network says the show will be “new and improved” when it “makes its triumphant return to BET.” Among the changes: “a brand new stage and exciting themed challenges.”

Sunday Best season nine will premiere June 30, and is going into production soon in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Contestants will come from around the world: auditions were held earlier this spring in London; Johannesburg; and Lagos, Nigeria, in addition to Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. People could also audition online.

The first episode, BET said, will focus on “in-person auditions in front of the judges as they narrow the field from 20 to the top 10.”

The show will be hosted by Grammy-winning singer Kirk Franklin, who hosted the original. Judging are Erica Campbell, who judged some of the earlier seasons, along with Kelly Price and Jonathan McReynolds.

Sunday Best’s host and judges

Sunday Best host Kirk Franklin, season 8 episode 1
Sunday Best host Kirk Franklin, during season 8 episode 1. He’s returning for season 9. (Photo by Eli Adé/BET)

Here are the bios for the host and judges of the resurrected version of Sunday Best, from BET’s announcement:

Kirk Franklin (Host)

Since making his debut in the early 90s, Kirk Franklin has established himself as a trailblazer and icon in contemporary music. He first burst onto the world stage with Kirk Franklin & The Family, forever changing the look and sound of gospel music. Since then, Franklin has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and written and produced timeless, genre-bending music for himself and other artists earning numerous awards and accolades, including fourteen GRAMMY’s and forty-three Stellar Awards. With a career spanning over 25 years, he continues to break new ground and make indelible contributions to popular music. Franklin will release his 13th studio album, LONG LIVE LOVE, on May 31st.

Erica Campbell (Judge)

A 5x Grammy Award winner who has released two solo albums as well as seven albums with her sister as part of the dynamic duo “Mary Mary.” Campbell has received numerous awards and accolades. Her debut solo album “Help” topped the charts for several weeks and won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album as well as earned 8 Stellar Awards. Campbell recently released her first duet “All Of My Life,” with music-producer husband Warryn Campbell. Erica continues to elevate as a multi-media star and is the host of the highly-rated nationally syndicated radio show “Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell” that can be heard weekdays 6am-10am EST in over 40 markets.

Kelly Price (Judge)

Kelly Price has forged her own career path in music, when she first earned the reputation as one of the industry’s most sought-after songwriters, before becoming a 9-time Grammy-nominated artist in her own right. Her first two albums, Soul of a Woman and Mirror Mirror both went platinum and launched Price to R&B prominence. Proving versatile off the stage, Price has now pivoted to television, and stars as a series regular in BET’s hit series American Soul, recently picked up for season 2The project brought Price’s career full circle as “Soul Train” was the first national broadcast appearance of her career, and her first industry award when she took home the Soul Train Awards trophy for Best New Artist.

Jonathan McReynolds (Judge)

A Dove Award-winning, 3-time GRAMMY® nominee, 8-time Stellar Award winning, NAACP Image Award nominee and Billboard Music Award nominated gospel singer-songwriter based in Chicago, IL. At just 29, Jonathan has released three full length studio albums and one EP, holds a Masters in Theology from Moody Theological Seminary and is currently an adjunct member of the Columbia College faculty on top of his work as an official contributor to Huffington Post. He is also the founder of Elihu Nation, a nonprofit organization that promotes wisdom and recently awarded $30k in scholarships. He was recently named a new member of Mensa, an international high IQ society, as well. His music has been cheered on by music icons from Stevie Wonder, Nicki Minaj, and Tori Kelly to gospel giants like CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, and Kirk Franklin, who dubbed McReynolds “the future of gospel music.” McReynolds also serves as an ambassador for Martin Guitars.

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