BET’s “Sunday Best” judge and award-winning singer Jonathan McReynolds is getting ready for the launch of the quarantine version of the singing competition this weekend and says gospel singers and church leaders alike are being forced to see what’s in their hearts as they are not able to lead crowds of people.
The first two episodes of season 10 were filmed from Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, where the top 20 contestants from all across the nation gathered to perform acapella for the celebrity judges — McReynolds, Kirk Franklin, Erica Campbell, and Kelly Price. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, in an effort to keep the judges, contestants and crew safe, they decided to practice social distancing and used innovative technology and artist-generated content to film episodes four through eight of the new season.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post’s interview with McReynolds where the gospel singer shares what viewers can expect from the unique season of the singing competition and how the contestants were forced to truly perform for an audience of one.
Christian Post: Tell us about the new season of “Sunday Best”?
McReynolds: This is my second season, their 10th season, really excited about it. We didn’t know how this was going to go, we got three episodes in and then we had to lock it all down. But we were able to create some mini TV studios in our homes and try to work it out there. I really think it turned out pretty well. I’m excited to see the final project but still the great singing and the inspirational moments and all the things that people really love about the show, I think that they stayed true.
CP: How is doing a show in a digital way different and what can the viewers be looking forward to?
McReynolds: I think, especially when it comes to gospel singing, particularly like the traditional gospel way, now I’m not the most traditional gospel person in the world, some of the things that I do are more intimate and it’s OK for me to be the only person in the room sometimes, but mainline traditional gospel, it needs people. It needs audience, it needs that energy, and that participation and the amen corner and everything else. So that’s missing and so that that sucks for us because we know that there’s a different part of a gospel record, is the crowd.
The artists and the contestants in this season had to learn how to almost generate that energy themselves, maintain that engagement, maintain that connection. Honestly, that’s what all of us artists have to do right now anyway and so I think it makes sense. It’s appropriate for people who are trying to be in the position that we’re in, to have to go through that ringer right now and then learn how to to be felt through a screen, and how to sing like nobody’s watching because you really can’t see anybody watching. So it was weird, but I think it turned out to be good.
I think you guys can really expect some really inspirational moments. One thing that was a little lost on me last season was that this is not just a competition, this is a part of people’s lives. These are humans. And even over the COVID pandemic and overall of what’s going on there’s some gut-wrenching, moments where they were really dealing with loss and dealing with grief and dealing with a whole bunch of other things that were revealed and exacerbated because the situation we’re in, I think people are going to really see the humanity in these people and I think that’s always a good thing.
CP: There’s a spiritual lesson in what you just shared. People are now forced to play or sing to an audience of one. Can you talk about developing that intimacy in worship, praise, singing and gospel, apart from feeding off of the energy of everyone else?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law