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    First place winner Sheila Copeland breaks out in a praise break at The Best of the Carolinas competition and showcase. Photo by Brittany D. Cowan/ Campus Echo Co-editor-in-chief.
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    Third place winner and NCCU freshman Josiah Russell belts out a soulful tune at the showcase. Photo by Brittany D. Cowan/ Campus Echo Co-editor-in-chief.
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    NCCU's WPI Mass Choir sings "God's Will is what I Want" and "God is" at the showcase. Photo by Brittany D. Cowan/ Campus Echo Co-editor-in-chief.

Best of the Carolinas finds new talent for Hoco gospel concert


B.N. Duke Auditorium was filled with melodious songs and worship on Sept. 29 for The Best of the Carolinas Gospel Competition hosted by NCCU’s Office of Spiritual Development & Dialogue. 

The competition showcased the musical talents of NCCU students and members of the Durham gospel community.

According to Gloria Winson-Harris, director of NCCU’s Office of Spiritual Development and Dialogue, the ultimate purpose of the event was to bring together NCCU family (students, staff, faculty, and alums), Radio One -103.9 the Light, along with the local churches and community partners to showcase our gifts and talents while celebrating God. 

The gospel competition’s inaugural year 2017 at the request of students and community members who attended Spiritual Development and Dialogue’s Transformation Tuesday worship nights.

 Winson-Harris said Transformation Tuesdays’ praise and worship team at the time made many people want larger space for NCCU students and Durham gospel singers to showcase their talents, similar to BET’s Sunday’s Best gospel competition show. 

In collaboration with NCCU’s Homecoming Committee SGA, SAB, SEAL, Radio One -103.9 the Light, and many others, The Best of the Carolinas Gospel Competition was created. 

According to Winston- Harris, the winner of The Best of the Carolinas Gospel Competition will be the opening act at NCCU’s homecoming gospel concert. 

“This a signature, premier event that feeds into the gospel concert that promotes the talent that is already here,” Winson-Harris said. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where people showcase their gifts.” 

The winner of The Best of the Carolinas’ inaugural competition was NCCU student Imani Tyson.

Tyson, who was the opening act for NCCU’s 2017 Homecoming Gospel Concert, is now a gospel recording artist and said the connections that she made while performing in the Best of the Carolinas and the homecoming gospel concert helped her during her journey. 

This year, there were eight performers to hit the stage and share their musical gifts with an eager audience. Also, there was a guest group performances from NCCU Worship and Praise International Mass Choir and Unrestricted Praise.

The first-place winner of this year’s Best of the Carolinas Faith Assembly Christian Center’s Sheila Copeland and the second-place winner was NCCU freshman Jared Little. 

The third-place winner of the gospel competition was NCCU freshman Josiah Russell. 

Russell, who is also a new member of WPI Mass Choir, said that it felt good being a part of the gospel competition and that singing is a part of his “identity.”

“Singing has made me who I am and shaped my identity of how people identify me,” Russell said. 

Winson-Harris emphasized the hard work of the performers while competing in this competition. 

“They were prepared, they worked hard, and they were all winners,”  Winson-Harris said in regards to the performers.“Everybody that competed, they brought it!”

In addition to the musical festivities of the evening, the Office of Spiritual Development and Dialogue added a segment to the competition entitled, “Battle of the Classes.” 

During this portion of the competition, representatives from each class at NCCU was invited onto the stage to compete in a gospel dance break.  the representative with the most applause from the audience would be the winner. 

The winner of this year’s Battle of the Classes was the class of 2023 with their representative being their 2019-2020 Miss Freshman Nyquasia Brown. The class of 2023 won an ice cream and pizza party dedicated to them at SD&D’s Transformation Tuesday. 

Winston-Harris emphasized that both The Best of the Carolinas and other SD&D events are outlets for the organization to put spiritual life at the “front and center” of everything. 

“We are always looking for ways to make spiritual life front and center and active for our students and community,” Winston-Harris said. “We have many other things that will benefit our students who want to showcase their gifts and talents.” 



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