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[04/26/10 - 05:45 AM]
Let the Praise Party Begin: BET's Hit Singing Competition 'Sunday Best' Names Season Three's Top 20 Contestants
Taping in New Orleans, the stage show portion of SUNDAY BEST begins on Sunday, May 2 at 8:00/7:00c.

[via press release from BET]

Let the Praise Party Begin: BET's Hit Singing Competition 'SUNDAY BEST' Names Season Three's Top 20 Contestants

Gospel Greats Kirk Franklin, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and Mary Mary Land in the New Home of 'SUNDAY BEST,' New Orleans, to Begin the Tough Job of Finding America's Next Gospel Star

NEW YORK, April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- BET's hit gospel singing competition show, SUNDAY BEST is taking praise and competition to the next level. Viewers witnessed as thousands of hopefuls showed up for auditions in Lagos, Nigeria, Detroit, Philadelphia and New Orleans but now the competition swings in to full gear and names this season's Top 20 contestants. Taping in New Orleans, the stage show portion of SUNDAY BEST begins on Sunday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m.*

From a pool of over 15,000 aspiring vocalists, only an elite group of 20 was selected to advance on the road to SUNDAY BEST. Hosted by gospel legend Kirk Franklin, the new season welcomes Pastor Donnie McClurkin and Yolanda Adams to the stellar team of judges including returning multi-award winning siblings Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary.

"This third season, above all those prior, is going to be the most difficult season to judge because of the level of phenomenal talent that we've seen and heard," said judge Donnie McClurkin. "My professional and musical expertise is being utilized to its' highest degree, and because of the level of talent, I wish that there could be more than one SUNDAY BEST. SUNDAY BEST presents the best 'up and coming' gospel talent, hands down."

Here are the Top 20:

Bethany Devine � Little Rock, AR
Brian Smith � Chicago, IL
Brittney J. Dear � Madison, MS
David E. Wilford � Millsboro, DL
Davon Fleming � Baltimore, MD
Dathan Thigpen � Ridgeland, MS
Durward Davis � Tulsa, OK
Fumni Oduyemi � Lagos, Nigeria
Franklin Davis, IV � New Orleans, LA
Goldwire McLendon � Philadelphia, PA
Jonte Thomas � New Orleans, LA
Lamesha "Mesie" Augustine � Indianapolis, IN
Leandria Johnson � Orlando, FL
Martha Buries � Houston, TX
Orlando Wright � Cincinnati, OH
Quiana Pettigrew � Cleveland, OH
Robert Hatcher � Brooklyn, NY
Tawanna Tarvin � Monroe, LA
Tiffany Carlin-Laird � Baton Rouge, LA
Vernell Payton � New Orleans, LA

Viewers are in for a special treat as Stellar Gospel Music Award winner Kim Burrell will share her talent as season three's contestant mentor. Often called "this generation's Ella Fitzgerald," Kim will provide advice and vocal guidance to the Top 20 contestants this season. Fans will recall her stirring performance of "I Believe in You and Me" in an amazing tribute to Whitney Houston during this year's BET HONORS.

In addition to the coveted title of SUNDAY BEST season three contestants will compete for the chance to win a brand new 2010 Ford Taurus SHO and prizes from Degree Nature Effects. Additional sponsors for SUNDAY BEST season three include Pillsbury Grands, Nationwide, General Mills and Design Essentials.

Viewers can watch SUNDAY BEST on Sundays at 8:00 p.m.*

For more on SUNDAY BEST, please visit www.BET.com/sundaybest.

*All times ET/PT

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.





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