- (Photo: REUTERS/Molly Riley)
Another tribute will be paid to former megastar Whitney Houston during the 12th annual "Celebration of Gospel" event held by BET Networks.
During last year's special, which aired in January, Houston joined her good friend, gospel artist Kim Burrell, on stage, garnering a standing ovation for their "I Look to You" duet.
BET recently confirmed that they would be recognizing Houston, whose "singing gift was anchored in her gospel roots," during their two-hour special this year, which will air for the first time in history on Palm Sunday, drawing further significance and power to the special.
Veteran comedian Steve Harvey will again host the inspiring show, which brings together legendary gospel and R&B singers on stage performing powerful and dynamic songs that celebrate the Gospel message.
Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, and more will be included in the special, which airs on the first of April.
Grammy and Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday and R&B singers Faith Evans, Johnny Gill, Ledisi and Kelly Price will also perform during the "Rise Up! Renew! Rejoice!" celebration.
In addition to the musical performances, Bobby Jones Gospel and Wendy Raquel Robinson will deliver spoken word selections as well.
Mahalia Jackson, the "Queen of Gospel Music," will also be honored and remembered for her significant contributions to gospel music and the civil rights movement alongside Houston.
Hailed as the number one religious telecast since its inception by The Nielsen Company, the "Celebration of Gospel" event last year had a record of 2.75 million viewers.
For the 11th consecutive year, the show continues to rank first in the gospel/religious telecast since 2000, bringing in large ratings for the BET Network.
The 2012 event is expected to draw in record-breaking numbers again this year, especially because of its airing during the Easter season.
Taping will occur on Friday, March 16 at 8 p.m. PT at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, and the music special will air on April 1 at 8 p.m.
Tickets to attend the taping are free to the public on a first-come, first serve basis and all requests can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Hill, BET's president of Music Programming and Specials, Lynne Harris Taylor, vice president of Specials and Music Production and executive producer Geovanni Brewer will oversee production.
American Idol's music director Ray Chew, former member of the Saturday Night Live Band, will also return as the show's musical director.
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience.
The channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the network.
The Nielsen Company reported that 2011 was BET's most watched year ever, with the network having three consecutive years of audience growth. It is currently the number one cable network among African-American adult viewers.