Returning from its four-year hiatus, America’s most inspirational singing competition, “Sunday Best,” makes its triumphant return to BET on Sunday, June 30that 8/7c with two brand-new back-to-back episodes. The well-established gospel show welcomes back Grammy Award-winning music legend Kirk Franklin as host, gospel songstress and host of “Get Up Mornings,” Erica Campbell as a judge; and added two Grammy-Award nominated artists Kelly Price and Jonathan McReynolds as new additions to the panel. With a brand-new stage and exciting themed challenges, this season has narrowed down the competition to 20 finalists.
The new season kicks off for the first time ever with in-person auditions in front of the judges, with no audience. The contestants have to show their true talent, with no smoke and mirrors, by performing acapella with no band support, as they narrow the field from 20 to the top 10. For the first time the contestants were able to use an online submissions process, after which the team lead a global search for this year’s contestants, leading up to the much-anticipated live auditions in Dallas, TX, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, GA, and Detroit, MI, Lagos, Nigeria and for the first time-ever London, England and Johannesburg, South Africa, which were open to select international contestants.
The top 20 contestants are:
Antonio Santora, 31, Durham, North Carolina
Ashley Barnes, 24, Memphis, Tennessee
Brielle Frage, 21, Avenel, New Jersey
Cornelius Edwards, 33, West Palm Beach, Florida
Chelsey Barnes, 22, Memphis, TN
Emorja Roberson, 27, South Bend, Indiana
Jamal Roberts, 22, Meridian, Mississippi
James Thompson, 23, Derby UK
Jason Warrior, 23, Chicago, IL
Joshua Copeland, 37, Salisbury, Maryland
Kayva Offord, 27, Orange, Texas
Keyla Richardson, 22, Pensacola, Florida
Lakeesha Rice, 36, Greensboro, North Carolina
Linda Williams, 52, University Heights, OH
Melvin Crispell III, 21, Charlotte, North Carolina
Opal Staples, 38, Chicago, IL
Roy Moye, 26, Wichita, Kansas
Tiffany Andrews, 35, Newark, New Jersey
Tiffany Moore, 35, Augusta, Georgia
Yoonjung Park, 32, South Korea
Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment (BET Awards, The New Edition Story), serves as executive producer of season nine of Sunday Best along with showrunner Josh Greenberg (The Sing-Off, Lip Sync Battle). Dionne Harmon (The Bobby Brown Story, Hip Hop Squares) and Jeannae Rouzan–Clay (Dear Mama, Black Girls Rock!) and are co-executive producers.