*It doesn’t matter much that gospel choirs aren’t the “in” thing at record labels and on the radio.

How Sweet the Sound, a gospel competition coming to Scottrade Center next week, continues to pack in the crowds locally and nationally.

“Church choirs are never going anywhere,” says co-host Donald Lawrence, a nationally renowned gospel singer. “As long as there is Sunday morning church services, there will be Sunday morning choirs.”

This year, the competition, which names best church choir, features an opening tribute to the late Walter Hawkins that sets the tone of the show and adds CeCe Winans as co-host.

“She adds a new twist to it and brings another element with her,” Lawrence says. “She graces the stage so well, and we have great chemistry.”

Gospel singer Marvin Sapp will continue as a judge, despite his wife’s death last month after an illness. Sapp heard the news when his airplane touched down in Houston for the first date of How Sweet the Sound and missed only one show.

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