*Hosted by CeCe Winans and Donald Lawrence, Verizon Wireless will name the top gospel choir in the country tonight at the finale of the How Sweet the Sound  (HSTS) sing off  at  Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

Nine regional finalists, will surrender to the critical ears of celebrity judges Marvin Sapp,  Shirley Caesar and Israel Houghton and honorary guest Andraé Crouch, competing for up to $25,000 and the title of “America’s Church Choir.”

The full list of finalists are:

·Dallas: St. John Church Music Ministry (Grand Prairie, TX

·Atlanta: All Nations Life and Praise Church Choir (Stockbridge, GA)

·Charlotte, N.C.: Salvation and Deliverance Church Choir of Salvation and Deliverance Church (Tarboro, N.C.)

·Washington, D.C.: James E. Jordan, Jr. Adult Choir of Refreshing Spring Church of God In Christ (Riverdale, MD)

·Detroit: The Anointed Voices of Higher Ground Young Adult Choir of Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, Inc. (Columbus, OH)

·St. Louis: Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis Choir of Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis (St. Louis, MO)

·Chicago: All Nations Choir of The Lighthouse Church of All Nations (Alsip, IL)

·Los Angeles: Family Life Center Sanctuary Choir of Family Life Center Apostolic Church (Whittier, Calif.)

·Oakland, Calif.: Christian Life Center Mass Choir of Stockton Christian Life Center, Inc. (Stockton, Calif.)

The evening will also feature a performance from Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, stars of the upcoming film Joyful Noise, in theatres on January 13.
Since 2009 the HSTS has been an avenue for helping choirs further their music minsitries.

When asked if the event has inspired the recording of more choir music,  Donald Lawrence, who is also the founder of the acclaimed Tri-City Singers replied, “While choir music has always been popular in churches on Sunday morning and a vital part of gospel music, I do feel that HSTS has given winning choirs the platform, funds and motivation to actually professionally record and release their choir’s music.  Many of the regional and national winners have used the exposure and monetary winnings from HSTS to record and release albums.  I have actually personally been involved with some of these recordings.

The sing-off has done more than provide entertainment it also reinvests in the community by turning no-longer-used wireless phones into support for victims and survivors of domestic violence.  Proceeds from the HopeLine program are used to provide wireless phones and airtime to domestic violence victims and survivors, and cash grants to local shelters and nonprofit organizations that focus on domestic violence prevention, awareness and advocacy.  More than 12,000 phones were collected throughout the tour.  For more information about HopeLine from Verizon and to learn how to organize a HopeLine drive, visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.

How Sweet the Sound takes place tonight at the  Staples Center located at 1111 South Figueroa Street; Los Angeles, CA 90015-1300 starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $10-$15 and can be purchased at www.howsweetthesound.com.

The HSTS finale will be televised on the Gospel Music Channel on December 3.