Gospel’s Finest contestant Dani Mac belts out “Thank you, Lord” during rehearsal for this weekend’s competition.


The judges for the 7th Annual Gospel’s Finest Singing Competition have an unenviable task.

Selecting a single winner from the eight contestants in this weekend’s competition is not going to be easy. The field of contestants — Carolyn Caldwell, Brittany Campbell, Ivy Jackson, Dani Mac, Reggie Patton, Yulson Suddreth, Sheldon Sloan and Virginia Rush — is sure to entertain and inspire.

“It’s going to be a good one. It might be one of the best ones we’ve had,” said organizer Felina Harris. “This is a pretty strong group of folks so I’m excited.”

Gospel’s Finest is set for Sunday, April 28, at Mac Gray Visual & Performing Arts Center on the campus of Statesville High School. The competition begins at 4 p.m.

The doors open at 3 p.m. An assortment of vendors will on site, along with Skinners Food Truck.

Proceeds from the event will help fund Circle of Giving’s annual scholarship program. The nonprofit organization presented scholarships to 13 high school seniors last year.

This year’s contestants, who were chosen from a pool of applicants who submitted video auditions, knocked it out of the park during rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the event. Each contestant will perform one song during the competition.

Dani Mac will perform Walter Hawkins’ “Thank you, Lord.” It was an easy choice for the Charlotte resident, who said she learned about the competition from a deejay on Karaoke Night at Mr. Charles Chicken & Fish.

It will be her first competition since she took the stage for a talent show about 25 years ago.

“I just love to sing at church for the Lord — and karaoke on the weekends,” she explained.

Sheldom Sloan rehearses for the upcoming Gospel’s Finest competition.

Statesville native Sheldon Sloan was a little nervous during his first rehearsal. He wasn’t sure what to expect from the band and the back-up singers, but those worries faded quickly.

A three-time “Top Dog” winner at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, Sloan has been singing gospel music since he joined the Clark’s Chapel Baptist children’s choir as a five year old. 

He’ll be performing “Already There” by Brian Courtney Wilson.

“It’s been near and dear to my heart,” said Sloan, explaining the song’s powerful message. “You’ve got to realize when two or more people are gathered in the room, He’s already there.” 

The caliber of performers is rivaled by the quality of the band and vocalists that will support the contestants during the competition.

SaCred, a gospel group made up of talented sisters Rochelle Brown, Tiffany Gray-Lockett and Deidra Gray, will sing backup.

Meanwhile, JJ Hunter, the director of music at Visions Outreach Ministries, has assembled a talented ensemble, including Derick Summers and Charles Boller on keyboard, Mitchell Huntley on lead guitar and Jaylen Heaggans on drums.

Judges for the competition are Chad Forte, a professional musician from the Charlotte area; Connie Birth, CEO of management company and program director for a radio station; and Devarius Hughes, a quartet singer from South Carolina.

Harris is expecting a fantastic show and a large crowd.

“My phone and email have been blowing up all week,” she said.


Advance tickets, which cost $25, are available at Phifer’s Hot Wings & BBQ, located at 1023 Shelton Avenue in Statesville, and from any Circle of Giving member. Contact Felina Harris at 704-618-5900 for advance tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door for $30.