Vashawn Mitchell. Erica Campbell, Donald Lawrence, Yolanda Adams, Hezekiah Walker & Fred Hammond

*Thousands of Gospel fans cheering, praising and worshipping filled Staples Center Friday nigh for Verizon’s 5th Annual How Sweet the Sound gospel competition.

Some of the best choirs from all over the Western region battled it out to make it to Los Angeles for an inspiring night of empowerment and encouragement.

Darnell Daymon & The Greater Works Chorale

Hosted by Gospel Award-winning artists Yolanda Adams and Donald Lawrence, each of the six featured choirs was judged by an all-star Gospel line up, including Fred Hammond, Erica Campbell, Hezekiah Walker, and Vashawn Mitchell.

From the beginning, audience members were on their feet, dancing, singing along and clapping their hands.

Darnell Daymon & The Greater Works Chorale

A few praise breaks and sermon breaks filled the atmosphere like the smell of grandma’s cooking on a Sunday afternoon.

The six choirs, church, community and college, were judged on overall presence, technical merit and originality or interpretation of a song.

While the audience was moved to praise and everyone had a great time, there could only be one victorious team of singers.

Darnell Daymon & The Greater Works Chorale

Darnell Daymon & The Greater Works Chorale wowed the audience and judges with an electrifying rendition of “Do You Know Him.” From the outset, the choir impressed with a unique presentation of a 50′s-style get-up. The ladies were clad in yellow, with beautiful pill box-like hairpieces that complemented their lacy gloves. The men strutted out in chocolate brown suits. They took it all home –the Regional People’s Choice Award (audience votes via phone) and Regional Winner Award, totaling to $15,000 in prize money.

Gospel Gators of San Francisco State University

The first college choir to compete in How Sweet the Sound, the Gospel Gators of San Francisco State University, struck a very particular chord with the judges, despite being runner up.

Fred was elated to see the young people unapologetically praising God. They received a check of $5,000.

Gospel Gators of San Francisco State University

The winners in each of the seven regions of the competition will praise it out in New York, Nov. 4, for the final step in the competition.

Learn more at www.howsweetthesound.com.