Singer, songwriter and producer Donald Lawrence has hosted Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” for fives years.

The Gospel choir competition, which expanded from just church choirs to community and college choirs this year, is gearing up for its big finale on at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Lawrence believes that the continued success of “How Sweet the Sound” is confirmation that choir music is still a viable entity.

“A lot of people kind of felt like that the choir was not as revevant as it once was. This program shows that choirs will be around forever,” Lawrence told, while backstage at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

The famed choir master, who had years of success with his choir, The Tri-City Singers, believes that the choir environment is a great developmental ground for a breakout soloist.

“I think it is the best training for a person to step out as a soloist that a person could get,” he explained. “It teaches you how to handle an audience, how to feel an audience and not just in your own hometown, but around the country. It’s some of the best training for an artist.”

Grammy nominee Sheri Jones-Moffett and Stellar Award winner DeWayne Woods are among the breakout stars from Lawrence’s The Tri-City Singers.

In addition to choir participation building solo stars and being the heartbeat of the Sunday morning service, the 51-year-old artist acknowledged that the Gospel genre is one of the few music formats where artists can work even without huge radio hits.

“You know, when artists that sing other genres don’t have songs on the radio or a hit album, they don’t really work. But I know for me and some of the others in gospel, this is one of the only genres where you can have a light record that didn’t get a lot of airplay and you can still work. You can do those Sunday mornings and church services, which makes all the difference,” he expressed.

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