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Known for hits like “Take Me Back” and “Soon and Very Soon”, Andrae Crouch has spearheaded a movement of timeless gospel music that has connected with even Generation-Y. You don’t even have to know Andrae Crouch to be an appreciative listener of his music. How many times has your church service opened up with “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”? Or the communion staple “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”? You may even refer to it, like most as “The Blood”.

Sunday evening’s episode of Sunday Best proved to be a favorite all around. A contestant was due to be eliminated and for whatever reason, the judges decided to keep all 6. This could have been because the show was more of an “exhibition” unbeknownst to contestants and viewers. Or it could have purely been that each contestant really did well.

There were many challenges for the younger contestants who didn’t know the song chose for them or who simply didn’t know of Andrae Crouch and what he means to gospel music. Case in point, this season’s favorite, Joshua Rodgers struggled with “We Expect You” until judge Donnie McClurkin sang it and passed the baton to the “young buck” and after the quick mentoring session, he regained his vocal “footing” and wowed the world with his impeccable gift.

After watching Joshua struggle and watching the footage of him working with vocal coach Kim Burrell, her approach seemed a bit questionable. Her dismissive style may have left the young man ill prepared to perform such a difficult song with harmonic progressions way ahead of his time. McClurkin’s performance showed him that the song was ahead of his time, but not ahead of his gift. Let’s hope these young singers have more to look forward to under the guise of such a strong vocalist and musician such as Pastor Kim Burrell. When the competition resumes, it could cost a singer greatly.

Songwriter and musician extraordinaire, Crouch is another product of what I like to call the “Southern California Connection”. Along with James Cleveland, and the late Bishop Walter Hawkins, the music that came from this trio of artists pushed the musical envelope. With harmonies rivaling Top-40 pop and jazz combos, instrumental solos and interludes throughout the song and ministry that transcended the artists, these attributes have blessed gospel music and have opened countless doors for gospel singers and musicians.

Throughout Sunday’s show, Donnie McClurkin constantly alluded to his time with Pastor Crouch and what it meant to him. He was chided for singing along with the contestants and sometimes singing louder than them at times by the other judges CeCe Winans and Yolanda Adams. If you weren’t watching alone, you certainly had your moment of being shushed. Crouch’s incessant stream of gospel hits played out like lyrics from his hit “I’m Gonna Keep On Singing”.

I’m gonna keep on singing, I’m gonna keep on shouting, I’m gonna keep on lifting my voice and let the world know that Jesus saves!”

All in all, Sunday’s show brought one thing back to the forefront: “it’s all about Jesus!” The bitterness of competition and entertainment gripped the show in its bitter grasp, but Sunday that yoke was broken. The message of the gospel was once again the focus of the show. With Pastor Crouch in the audience and showing approval/disapproval, the contestants dug deep inside themselves to pull off performances that connected them with the message in each powerful song! Maybe just for one week, but this week’s episode was strong enough to declare this episode Sunday Best’s BEST!!!

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