The search for America’s next great gospel singer has ended – at least for this year – following an announcement Sunday heralding the winner of BET’s televised talent search.
After more than ten weeks of competing in the second season of “Sunday Best,” 32-year-old Y’Anna Crawley of Washington, D.C., was dubbed the winner during Sunday’s one-hour season finale.
But more than the ten weeks of competition and the five weeks that passed from the time of her audition to her selection, Crawley said she felt like she had been preparing for the moment her entire life.
"Through the ups and downs and highs and lows, God has truly been faithful and I owe it all to Him," she said.
Nine year ago, the single mother of two decided to quit a bank job to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a professional singer. Crawley says singing has always been her passion, even at the early age of seven when she first began to sing at church.
“Even when I thought my treasure had lost its value, [the Lord] knew and reminded me constantly of the investment that [He] made in me,” she expressed Sunday.
To land a spot this year on the second season of “Sunday Best,” Crawley had to be selected from more than 15,000 hopefuls who auditioned from around the nation.
Hosted by gospel music legend Kirk Franklin, “Sunday Best” is a nationwide talent search similar to “American Idol” but aims to find America’s next great gospel singer – a feat that, according to “Sunday Best” judges Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary, is not easy considering the amount of talent they come across.
"There was so much talent this season that we literally passed on dozens of incredible singers just because of space limitations," the gospel music duo reported earlier this year.
Since making it into the initial group of 20, Crawley managed to stay in the competition week after week before making it to Sunday’s finale show.
In the end, Crawley beat out 20-year-old Jessica Reedy, whose performance of the hymn “I Surrender All” brought the audience to tears.
“Sunday Best” producers said Crawley's “bubbly personality and bravado voice captured the hearts of viewers,” bringing in the larger percentage of the more than one million total votes.
Along with the title of “Sunday Best,” Crawley was awarded with a national recording contract and a 2009 Lincoln MKS.
The first single on her debut album is expected to be "The Promise," a song written by Lou "Buster" Brown, Scott "Shavoni" Parker and Ryan Sims.
Crawley performed “The Promise” to conclude Sunday’s season finale.