David "Pop" Winans, patriarch of the celebrated Winans family that includes gospel artists BeBe, CeCe, Michael, Marvin, Carvin and Ronald, passed away in April in a Nashville hospice facility. Winans was admitted there in January after suffering a heart attack last fall. He was 74. In a career that spanned decades, Winans and his wife, Dolores, performed as Mom and Pop Winans, and were nominated for a Grammy in 1989 for their album, Mom & Pop Winans. The two had appeared regularly at Benny Hinn crusades and on The Trinity Broadcasting Network's "Praise the Lord" program. Pop Winans was nominated for a Grammy in 1999 for his solo CD Uncensored.
Verizon Wireless is once again searching for the best church choir in America in its "How Sweet the Sound" competition. Donald Lawrence will be returning as host and Marvin Sapp will be back as judge and performer. The competition starts with regional competitions, after which eleven choirs will join together for the grand finale where all the choirs will compete for the chance to win more than $25,000 in cash and prizes and the title of The Best Church Choir in America. One of the concert competitions will be held Oct. 8 in Los Angeles. The deadline to enter is June 15. For more information, official rules, and to register your choir, visit www.howsweetthesound.com.
By the time you read this column, this season of "American Idol" will be heading into the home stretch. But it's worth noting that this season, more so than any other, has been dominated by contestants with strong ties to Christian music. In the Top 13 alone, Danny Gokey, Michael Sarver and Kris Allen are all worship leaders in their churches; Matt Giraud has released two Christian indie CDs; and Scott MacIntyre performs with the MacIntyre Family Singers gospel group and reportedly has appeared on "The Hour of Power." Even Lil Rounds sings at her church. While other seasons have showcased a few Christian contestants, this year seems to feature more than ever. Sarver and MacIntyre have been voted off as of press time, but there's a good chance that Danny Gokey and Kris Allen could make it to at least the final three. Who will take home the title of American Idol? We'll find out soon!
"Gospel Dream," the Idol-esque singing competition that airs on the Gospel Music Channel, is back for a fourth season. The show airs beginning June 6 and culminates with the grand finale on July 11. Auditions continue through May 4. For complete show information and a list of audition cities, visit www.gospelmusicchannel.com/gospeldream-09.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter and Christian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bryan Duncan has been appointed CEO and executive director of "Radio Rehab," a new non-profit public charity. "Radio Rehab" is the name of a 30-minute broadcast of music and commentary hosted by Duncan that offers encouragement and support to those in the process of recovery from a variety of addictions. The show was started in 2004 and currently airs on the Armed Forces Radio Network and is syndicated in four countries. The show can also be heard online at www.radiorehab.com.
Great Worship Songs is partnering with Inspire Conferences to discover the best in local worship talent. Writers may submit a self-penned worship song online for the opportunity to win a publishing contract with Brentwood Benson/GreatWorshipSongs.com. The winner will also receive a free professional demo of the winning song and complimentary registration for Inspire '10. The Inspire '09 Conference is being hosted by worship artist Carl Cartee and will be held in Nashville on May 13 and 14 at Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, Tenn. For contest guidelines and to learn more go to www.inspireworshipconference.com/participate.
Celebrated singer/songwriter Matthew West has initiated a national campaign around his song "The Motions," which has caused a buzz among fan circles who are rallying behind the song's message. West vows that he's not going to simply go through the motions in his faith, but to pursue God passionately and purposefully. He's created an online community where fans can share their resolutions to not "go through the motions" in any areas of their lives. You can learn more at www.matthewwest.com/themotions.
New Release Tuesday has launched NRT Mobile, the first Christian music application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It's basically an encyclopedia of Christian music at your fingertips, including artist info, discographies, lyrics, reviews and pictures, and it updates automatically with new releases. An update is planned for summer that will incorporate exclusive artist interviews, articles, devotionals, music news and New Release Tuesday's popular New Christian Music PodCasts. You can download the application for free at www.newreleasetuesday.com.
Looking for free downloads of new Christian music? Check out iTickets.com, where every Tuesday at least one new song is available for download for a limited time. Another great resource is FreeCCM.com, where every month you'll find new free downloads from INO artists.
For more Christian music news, visit Joanne's Gospel Soundcheck blog at Beliefnet.com www.blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck.