LOS ANGELES, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BET Networks will take the spirit to new heights on Sunday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m.* with the premiere of CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL followed by THE SHEARDS. Taped at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles and hosted by comedian and Steve Harvey, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL is filled with uplifting performances, powerful duets and soulful choirs.
Led by the world-renowned musical director Ray Chew and his 24-piece orchestra, CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL features breathtaking performances and spoken word segments by both mainstream and gospel greats including singer and actor Tyrese Gibson and SUNDAY BEST title holder and Grammy® winner Le' Andria Johnson performing a gospel rendition of the Donny Hathaway ballad "A Song for You"; Tamar Braxton singing the Walter Hawkins penned classic "Be Grateful," and Grammy®-winner Anita Baker making a surprise appearance and joining Donnie McClurkin to perform her 1987 hit "Ain't No Need to Worry" originally performed with The Winans.Additional highlights from the spiritual celebration include Grammy®-award winner Smokie Norful performing his new song, "Say So" with help from his nine-year-old son Ashton Norful ; Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers led a powerful tribute to the Rev. James Cleveland performing "Lord Help Me to Hold Out"; followed by the original James Cleveland singers performing "Lord Do It" and "No Ways Tired"; SUNDAY BEST winner Joshua Rogers belted out "Peace Be Still"; Donnie McClurkin left audience members speechless singing "God Is"; Rance Allen sang "That Will Be Good Enough For Me," and Dr. Bobby Jones joined in on the tribute finale "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus." In addition to musical performances, Oscar® Nominated actress Viola Davis delivered a beautiful spoken word selection. Rounding out the Gospel music fest are awe-inspiring performances by Pastor Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, Tamela Mann, Karen Clark Sheard and Kierra Sheard, Dorinda Clark Cole, Israel Houghton with Jason Nelson, Jonathan Butler & New Breed, Anthony Brown & Group Therapy and Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago featuring Jessica Reedy, Isaac Carree, Da T.R.U.T.H. and Canton Jones. BET's CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL is produced by BET Networks: Stephen Hill (President of Music Programming & Specials), Lynne Harris Taylor (Vice President, Specials and Music Production) and Geovani Brewer. FROM THE PULPIT TO THE STUDIO: BET NETWORKS LAUNCHES 'THE SHEARDS' The new docu-drama profiling the mega-popular Detroit based gospel super star family THE SHEARDS will debut at 10:00 P.M. ET/PT after the premiere of CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL. Gospel icon Karen Clark Sheard, part of the legendary Clark Sisters, her husband Bishop J. Drew, a mega church pastor in the Motor City and their children, Stellar Award winner and Grammy-nominated gospel songstress Kierra Sheard and producer J. Drew Sheard, star in the hour long series. Told through the eyes of Kierra and J. Drew, we will follow them as they navigate family, friends, and faith in a secular world. The explosive first season takes us on a drama filled ride as Kierra Sheard begins to break out of her family's shadow and looks to find more mainstream success with her own unique voice. Facing the difficulty of choosing between working with her brother, who she's collaborated with on all her previous albums, and experimenting with new producers to achieve a new sound, Kierra also struggles with juggling her new found independence with family, losing weight and love.