The Chicago Journal

Your Gateway to the Heartbeat of Chicago

Chicago Gospel Icons Unite! How Sweet The Sound

Chicago Gospel Icons Unite How Sweet The Sound_2
Photo Courtesy: Donald Lawrence (@DonaldLawrence)

How Sweet The Sound, the prestigious international music competition is set to showcase the talents of some of the countries’ finest artists. In an exciting announcement, it was revealed that three iconic Chicago Gospel artists will play pivotal roles in this year’s event, solidifying the city’s status as a hub for this music genre.

Donald Lawrence, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, and producer behind numerous gospel hits, will take center stage as the host of both competitions in Atlanta and London.

Lawrence has received over 30 Stellar Awards, four Dove Awards, and a Grammy Award. He also led the beloved Tri-City Singers, respected as one of the world’s best choirs. Lawrence’s unparalleled contributions to gospel music have earned him widespread acclaim, making him the perfect choice to lead this event.

When asked what makes for good contestants Lawrence said, “You have to understand the art of Gospel music – because it is an art form. You have to understand the Spirit, the storytelling, and you have to understand the delivery and creativity.” Lawrence went on to say, “Gospel music is not just what you hear. It’s what you feel. If you can get all those things, you’ll be right for this stage.” 

Joining Lawrence are two esteemed judges hailing from the Windy City: Ricky Dillard and Jonathan McReynolds. 

Chicago Gospel Icons Unite How Sweet The Sound

Photo Courtesy: Ricky Dillard

Dillard has a string of chart-topping Billboard Gospel Albums, including “Promise,” “No Limit,” and “Amazing.” Renowned for his dynamic choir directing skills, Dillard has solidified his position as a powerhouse in the industry. He is a Grammy Award nominee and the winner of multiple Stellar Awards. Dillard brings decades of experience and passion to the judging panel. “This global event is put together to display the gifts and talents of these artists,” says Dillard. “And it takes real talent to be on this stage, so if you have real talent – it will show.” 

Chicago Gospel Icons Unite How Sweet The Sound_3

Photo Courtesy: Jonathan McReynolds (@JonMcReynolds)

McReynolds has  received two Billboard No. 1 Gospel Albums, once in 2015 for “Life Music: Stage Two” and again in 2018 for “Make Room,” earning him widespread acclaim and fifteen Stellar Awards. His ability to seamlessly blend elements of gospel, R&B, and soul garnered him four GMA Dove Awards and five Grammy Award nominations, culminating in a Grammy win in 2021. 

The lineup doesn’t stop there. Accompanying Dillard and McReynolds on the judges’ panel are Hezekiah Walker, Tamela Mann, and JJ Hairston adding their unique perspectives and talents to the mix. Walker, a Grammy Award-winning pastor, and artist; Mann, a multi-talented Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, and entrepreneur; and Hairston, a Billboard chart-topping choir director and syndicated radio host.

Beyond the music, this year’s How Sweet The Sound competition is proud to partner with sponsors that are dedicated to meaningful causes. The Ad Council and Huntsman Mental Health Institute’s “Love, Your Mind” campaign will offer resources to promote and destigmatize mental health. 

Other sponsors include Compassion International, Glory Foods with their “What Feeds Your Soul?” campaign, inviting contestants and audience members to share their stories for a chance to win a year’s supply of Glory Foods products, and P&G with brands including OLAY Body, MIELLE, Tide, and Febreze. 

Gospel music enthusiasts across the nation will have the opportunity to experience How Sweet The Sound from the comfort of their homes thanks to a national television distribution deal with FOX Soul. Affiliate platforms like Samsung TV Plus, ROKU, YouTube, Apple TV+, and others will air the competition.

How Sweet the Sound will be held at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on June 1, 2024, at 8 pm.

Stream the music of Donald Lawrence, Ricky Dillard, and Jonathan McReynolds on all digital platforms. 

Connect with Lawrence on Instagram @donaldlawrence and Facebook @donaldlawrencemusic.

Connect with Dillard on Instagram @rickydillard, Facebook @rickydillardmusic, and TikTok @rickydillardofficial.

Connect with McReynolds on Instagram @jonmcreynolds and  Facebook @jmcreynoldsmusic. 


Published by: Martin De Juan

Share this article


This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of The Chicago Journal.