The newly revamped “Sunday Best” premiered on BET June 30, and over the past several weeks viewers have been treated to the sweet sounds of the gospel singing competition for a new crop of talent after a four-year hiatus.
One of the new judges joining the now-global competition program is Kelly Price. She decides on hopeful gospel superstars alongside fellow new judge gospel musician Jonathan McReynolds and returning judge gospel singer Erica Campbell. Gospel star Kirk Franklin has also resumed his long-standing hosting duties.
But while it makes sense for McReynolds, Campbell and Franklin to be part of the series, it might not be quite as obvious why Price, whose hits include “Friend of Mine” and a cover of “As We Lay,” would want to join it.
Yet, according to the vocalist herself, she’s got deep ties to the church.
“When I was offered this job, I was glad to take it because as a preacher’s kid, as a bishop’s granddaughter, I grew up in my grandfather’s church,” she tells Atlanta Black Star. “My mother was a choir director, y’all have ministers of music. … My mother was that in her father — my grandfather’s — church.
“I come from a long line of preachers and ministers,” Price continues. “I grew up very strict. The way I was raised, we couldn’t wear pants, we could not wear large jewelry, we could not wear makeup, we could not wear our toes out. We were not allowed to dress out for gym.”
With that in mind, Kelly said she had some reservations about pursuing a career in R&B.
“When the doors started opening for me to walk in a path unlike anyone else in my family had walked musically, it scared me because no one in my family had done it before,” she says. “But it kept representing itself until I had no other choice than to acknowledge that it was God opening up the door for me. And so, walking through it was very scary, but I did it and I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to show that God does provide other avenues.”
The shift was one Price said she had to pray on, as it troubled her bishop grandfather. The singer asked the Lord to give her a biblical example that she could draw on for her experience.
“There are many examples in the Bible where God has plucked his children out of what they are familiar with and placed them in pagan societies in government and in other areas where they actually came to prominence working for people and working with people who didn’t even believe the God that they prayed to,” she says after saying the stories of Moses as well as the three Hebrew boys were ones God led her to read.
“You can’t affect the people who need to hear about who God is if you’re hiding from them,” she adds. “He always needs agents in other areas and to do that, you have to look like them. You have to speak the language.”
Price said she was “excited” to join the show and thrilled about the program getting “a fresh new look.”
The star also spoke to the widespread impact of the gospel in secular music, including rap, hip-hop and R&B artists like Drake and Jay-Z, who have sampled The Clark Sisters.
“We may, as church people, have opinions about who we think they are, but I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see the inner workings of both sides,” Price says.