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With New Partnership, Gospel Music Competition How Sweet The Sound Highlights Mental Health In Communities Of Color

2022 How Sweet The Sound judges (L to R): Ricky Dillard, Jekalyn Carr, Hezekiah Walker, and J.J. Hairston

With its impending return after a 10-year hiatus, How Sweet The Sound is poised to electrify the gospel music industry on June 4th 2022, at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, as it selects the best gospel choir, soloist, and dance performance. The live, in-person gospel music competition also marks the start of a multi-dimensional partnership with the Ad Council on their Sound It Out campaign – an initiative to help parents and caregivers discuss mental health with their children.

The collaboration between the Ad Council and How Sweet The Sound seeks to encourage and equip people in the Black community to have more conversations about their emotional wellbeing, which has been further impacted by the pandemic. Black parents more often than white parents have reported that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their children’s education, their ability to care for their children and their relationships with family members.[1]

How Sweet The Sound and the Sound It Out campaign both showcase the unifying role music can play in bringing people together. Their partnership helps empower parents through music, using it as a powerful tool to start conversations with kids about their emotional wellbeing. The Sound It Out campaign is focused on showing how music can be used to explore difficult emotions and experiences with middle schoolers (ages 10-14), with a particular emphasis on reaching students through parents and caregivers. Sound It Out is a joint effort of the Ad Council and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by philanthropist Melinda French Gates.

“In the faith-based community, we often shy away from talking about or dealing with mental health issues, and I hope this partnership will enable us to begin normalizing discussions around the subject,” said Nathanael Brown, an award-winning choral director, saxophonist, and CEO of Gentle Giant Music Ministries, which owns the How Sweet The Sound brand.

“Gospel music is a wonderful example of what the Sound It Out campaign is all about: music’s power to connect us to our emotions and to one another,” said Sherry Thompson, Mental Health Campaign Coalition Lead, the Ad Council. “We’re thrilled to partner with How Sweet The Sound to help raise awareness of the importance of mental wellness in the Black community, while providing valuable tools and resources to help families have more open and honest conversations about emotional wellbeing.”

In addition to announcing the new collaboration, How Sweet The Sound recently released its slate of celebrity judges. They include Grammy Award winner and pastor, Hezekiah Walker; Dove Award winner and Grammy nominated artist, actress and author Jekalyn Carr; renowned gospel choir director and Stellar Award winner Ricky Dillard; and national Billboard chart-topping choir director and syndicated radio host J.J. Hairston. The judges, along with How Sweet The Sound’s host, Grammy Award-winning song writer and record producer Donald Lawrence, will perform live at the event.

Youth and young adult choirs from across the United States can now enter the How Sweet The Sound Junior competition. Four finalists will perform live at the How Sweet The Sound pre-show, competing for a $1,000 cash prize. More information about this exciting youth competition is available here.

Tickets for How Sweet The Sound are available at Ticketmaster or Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

ABOUT HOW SWEET THE SOUND
How Sweet The Sound is a national gospel music competition tour that celebrates the history and sound of gospel music and dance throughout the communities of America. Founded in 2007 with the sponsorship of Verizon, How Sweet The Sound relaunched in 2022 under the new ownership of Gentle Giant Music Ministries. Follow How Sweet The Sound communities on Facebook,  Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

ABOUT SOUND IT OUT
Sound It Out is a national campaign that uses the power and soul of music to help parents and caregivers better support their middle schooler’s emotional wellness. Created by the Ad Council, in partnership with Pivotal Ventures and a coalition of organizations, the campaign delivers exclusive new music from some of today’s brightest stars and worked alongside a panel of expert advisors to ensure the work is always culturally competent and relevant.

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About Khalif M. Townes

Khalif M. Townes is the Founder/President/CEO of The Townes Media Group, LLC (formally Urban Roundup Group, LLC.) He is also the creator of uGospel.com. Townes formed uGospel.com to provide an outlet where up to the minute information on the Faith Based Community and Gospel Music Industry can be accessed with the click of a button.
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