By Marvin Marcellus
Montgazette Staff Writer
“Sunday Best” is a gospel singing competition series which airs on Black Entertainment Television, best known as BET. Each year for the past seven years, the show and its judges have set out to find the best undiscovered gospel talent in America.
The show’s finalists compete each week with votes coming in from all over America until a winner is crowned. Current judges of the competition are gospel greats Yolanda Adams, Kierra Sheard and Donnie McClurkin. Gospel singer Kim Burrell serves as the contestants’ mentor, and the program is hosted by another gospel legend Kirk Franklin.
In the spring, at Reid Temple A.M.E. Church, hundreds of young hopefuls prepared to try and impress the first round judges. In the audition room, the judges made their decision within 15 seconds of hearing a contestant sing. Among those hopefuls waiting to be called into the audition room was Montco’s own Candace Benson, who had just recently celebrated her 22nd birthday. She entered the audition room surrounded by about a dozen other contestants and sang “Take Me To The King” by Tamela Mann. The once shy girl from Pottstown let her spirit shine through and won over the judges.
Over the summer, Candace had a successful run on the show moving on each week until the finale where she finished as runner-up in a hard fought, but friendly contest between herself and finalist Geoffrey Golden.
Candace is continuing her studies here at Montco majoring in music. I got a chance to catch up with Candace for a brief interview about her experience on a nationally televised show.
MM: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face this year with the show or in your life? I know your schedule has probably gotten a lot busier since the show.
CB: Yes it has! One challenge I had was just having the confidence to believe in myself and stay focused on my goals. My parents always say “Okay Candace, do you want that or do you want this music career that you’ve pretty much worked all your whole life towards?” So I just had to believe in myself in the midst of all of that. Second, I had to believe that I actually had what it takes. Like is my music good?
CB: People are inspired through my music and you know you have to believe in that, too. Also I can’t really depend on people’s accolades, I just have to go forth and do what I need to do. Third my shyness; I don’t have too much of a shyness now.
MM: It’s kind of been broken out of you now, right?
CB: Yea, when it comes to music, I’m like “okay, this is it, bam!” I’m learning how to control the shyness. The show “Sunday Best” definitely helped me to grow stronger. I’m definitely stronger. 2014 has definitely been a pivotal year for me. Everything that’s happened has helped me to focus on my musical path.
MM: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
CB: Montco definitely prepared me for the show because not only am I taking classes in music, but I’m taking classes in audio production. So when I got on the show, I wasn’t shocked by the lights and the production. My professors really prepared me, and I felt right at home on the set. I encourage students and really anyone to get educated in whatever field you’re in because it really opens up another world to you that you might not get if you don’t do it.