Verizon Wireless' How Sweet The Sound On Tour To Find The 2009 Best Church Choir In America

BASKING RIDGE, NJ — How Sweet the Sound™ is back this year to give church choirs in 11 cities a chance to win the title of “The Best Church Choir in America” and up to $50,000 in cash and prizes. Starting today, registration will be open for Verizon Wireless’ national competition. Interested choir representatives can visit www.HowSweetTheSound.com for more information and to register for a chance to compete at concerts that will take place on the following dates:

  • Sept. 19 in Houston
  • Sept. 21 in St. Louis
  • Sept. 24 in Washington, D.C.
  • Sept. 25 in Philadelphia
  • Sept. 26 in Newark, N.J.
  • Sept. 28 in Detroit
  • Sept. 30 in Chicago
  • Oct. 2 in Atlanta
  • Oct. 5 in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Oct. 8 in Los Angeles
  • Oct. 10 in Oakland, Calif.

“How Sweet the Sound is an opportunity to celebrate the unique ways that music connects people,” said Mike Lanman, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless. “Gospel is a genre that attracts people from all walks of life which is what makes this competition so exciting. We look forward to meeting and recognizing the many volunteers who make church choirs such an important part of the community.”

Last year, Chicago’s Acme Missionary Baptist Church was named the overall winner for the 2008 How Sweet the Sound tour. According to church pastor, Reverend Bernard Sutton, the choir used their prize money to help build the congregation a new sanctuary.

Entry and Selection Process

How Sweet the Sound invites choirs affiliated with a church or other church organizations (as defined by the organization’s tax-exempt ID number) within one of the 11 tour cities to enter (visit www.HowSweetTheSound.com for specific geography). Choirs interested in a chance to perform onstage in their cities must submit an application and audition video no longer than three minutes. All registration forms and audition videos must be received by June 15. To register online, visit www.HowSweetTheSound.com. The audition video may be submitted by mail, uploaded online, or dropped off at participating Verizon Wireless Communications Stores. To enter by mail, send tapes to How Sweet the Sound, 125 E. Broad Street, Greenville, SC 29601.

Small and large choirs are eligible to enter the competition. The Few Voices category is for choirs consisting of six to 35 participants, while the Many Voices category is for choirs with 36 to 100 participants. Audition videos will be reviewed by professional music producers or Gospel radio personalities from each city. The judges will select up to 16 choirs – eight from each category – from each stop of the tour. The video submissions of the 16 choirs will be posted on www.HowSweetTheSound.com where members of the community can vote for their favorite choirs.

Once the online voting is complete, four choirs from each category will be selected to perform onstage in the regional event where two winners, one from each category, will win $10,000 for their choir. One overall winner will be selected at each regional concert, and each choir member from the overall winning choir will also receive a Verizon Wireless phone and a $50 gift card. The overall winning choir from each city will also advance to the grand finale where they will compete to win more than $25,000 in cash and prizes.

In addition, the Verizon Wireless V CAST People’s Choice Award will be given to the choir that captures the heart of the audience at each regional performance and at the grand finale performance. The V CAST People’s Choice Award winners will receive $5,000.

2009 Tour Highlights

Donald Lawrence, GRAMMY®-winning, songwriter, producer, arranger and music director, will emcee the tour for the second full year, and award-winning gospel artist, Marvin Sapp, will also be back as a judge. Once again, Verizon Wireless will select a local artist in each city to create a fine art piece to reflect the competition in their home city.

To entertain concert-goers again this year, Verizon Wireless will bring back the green screen at each tour stop for Gospel Karaoke. Participants can sing along with a gospel choir in front of a green screen so that their projected image is displayed onstage with the participating group. A copy of their performance can be sent to their mobile phones or uploaded to a Web site to be shared with friends and family.

Additional details will be announced as the selection process gets underway. All details about the entry and selection process and the official rules can be found by visiting www.HowSweetTheSound.com or by calling 800-230-0053.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Broadcast-quality B-Roll and high-resolution images from the 2008 How Sweet the Sound tour are available online. Log on to Verizon Wireless’ Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia to preview and request video segments, which can be received in newsrooms digitally or by tape.)

About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and data network, serving more than 80 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 85,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com  To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

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