Gospel looks to 'Idol' example

By Jenny Bennett | managing editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Posted: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 14:40

May 19, 2008

FOX's American Idol finale is tomorrow night, but once that's over, stay tuned for others whose quest for stardom starts on another network.

The Gospel Music Channel will premiere its version of Idol at 9 p.m. on June 1 with Gospel Dream 2008. Gospel Dream officials say the show will have the tone but not exactly the Idol tack – with judges who will give frank and honest critiques of 12 finalists vying for a record/video contract and a cruise.

"It's going to be pretty close (to American Idol)," says Adeidra Washington, spokeswoman for GMC. "We have our own Simon, our own Paula and our own Randy. They will be honest but not as brutal.'' So who plays the part of Paula Abdul? Dove and Stellar award winner Martha Munizzi. She recently released her latest CD/DVD, Change the World. Simon Cowell? "Big" Jim Wright, a Grammy award-winning record producer/songwriter/keyboardist/vocalist who has worked with both secular and gospel artists, including Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary and Aretha Franklin. And Randy Jackson? J. Moss, a co-writer and producer who has worked with The Clark Sisters, Hezekiah Walker, N'SYNC, Michelle Williams, Trin-i-tee 5:7, Dru Hill, Boyz II Men and Kelly Price.

The show's host is Matthew West, a singer/songwriter whose gospel single "More'' (2004) was the most played song of the year. Earlier this year, he released his newest CD, Something to Say. Auditions for the show were held in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami.

We had hundreds of thousands of people. We have gospel music of all genres – pop, rock, hip hop, country and soul," says Washington, who says the names of the contestants remain under lock and key. She did say, however, that none are Baltimoreans.

The shows are being taped in Nashville and throughout the series there will be guest appearances by pop and gospel music stars, the list of which is also not being revealed.

Gospel Music Channel is a cable station found on Comcast. Check your local listings.

--Posted by Karlayne Parker at 4:22 p.m.