There’s no shortage of talent in the Triad. Some of that talent is on full display on a national singing competition right now.
Lakeesha Rice, who lives in Greensboro, is competing on BET’s hit show “Sunday Best.”
Thousands of singers auditioned.
“The journey has been nothing short of amazing,” Lakeesha says.
After a video audition, in-person audition and interview in Atlanta with producers, followed by weeks of waiting, Lakeesha was called back to be part of the top 20.
“I’m usually quiet and really timid at times. So as I’m sitting there hearing everybody else walking around singing and stuff. And I’m just sitting there like dag they can sing!”
Most of the contestants are worship leaders, ministers, some come from families known throughout gospel music. Lakeesha’s story is different. Originally from Yonkers, New York, she didn’t grow up singing church music.
“A few years ago I remember someone telling me because I did secular and I remember them telling me when I said I wanted to do gospel…they said you want to do gospel? Your voice is nothing compared to those gospel singers. Those people will sing you under a bus.”
She competed -- and won -- at the legendary “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” She was signed to three different record labels singing r&b, released a few singles, but nothing came from those deals but heartbreak.
“I never got to the point where I was really able to display my talent.”
Her family moved to Greensboro last year. She recently joined New Jerusalem Church. She just started singing with the choir a few weeks ago and says she’s enjoyed just chilling in the background for now.
She’s now in the top seven of the competition. One of her biggest motivations is her daughter Kai’lynn.
“It’s exciting to see my mom on tv because since she was a little girl, she was always singing. So yeah, it’s pretty awesome,” Kai’lynn says.
Lakeesha cannot talk about the final results, but she can say she walked away with a new respect for the gift God has placed in her.
“I learned from Sunday Best that you have to be you. Sunday Best took me out of a nutshell that I placed myself in because I felt like I didn’t belong in gospel. And when someone tells you something, the enemy will use that over and over again.”
She’s not the only one from the Triad to make it on “Sunday Best.”
King-native Antonio Santoro made it to the top 20. He was not one of the singers chosen to move forward, but he says the experience was life-changing.
“I actually put music on the backburner for a while and focused on other things,” Santoro says. “God allowed me to wake up those dreams and desires. And that’s what I’d like to encourage others…God doesn’t forget the desires of your heart. He didn’t forget mine either. It’s really inspired me and woken up the gift of music and worship again, to even release a new album.”
Antonio’s album is available on iTunes.
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