Ocala singer walks into his season

The Rev. Karl "The Rev"Anderson, second from left, presided over the sing-off. With him are contestants, clockwise from left, Antonio “Da Psalmist” Steward, Alexandria “Lexi Lex” Wallace, Kandyce Fernice Goggins and K.C. Bryant.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

Jonathan R. Vickers of Ocala won the inaugural "Walk Into Your Season" Sing-Off at the 34th annual 5th Avenue Arts Festival by singing "He's Able" in the final round of the competition.

The sing-off, which was held last Saturday, featured eight contestants from Gainesville, Jacksonville, Ocala and Williston, and was judged by Elder David E. Richardson II of TOPROC Assembly of Praise Ministries, brothers Matthew Wade and Deray Williams, co-owners of Noiz of Zion Media LLC in Gainesville, and Dagna Galarza, a Gainesville-based gospel recording artist.

Vickers competed in the final round against Karen Boston of Gainesville, who has performed throughout the U.S. with Kirk Franklin and others.

The other contestants in the sing-off were K.C. Bryant, Nova Hart and Antonio "Da Psalmist" Steward, all of Gainesville; Tammy Smith of Jacksonville, and Alexandria "Lexi Lex" Wallace and Kandyce Fernice Goggins, both of Williston.

Dressed in a dark gray suit, Vickers received praise from the judges after the first round for his appearance, microphone etiquette and stage presence.

"I really like the way you held the microphone away from your mouth to prevent from singing too loud into the microphone," said Williams, during his critique of the performances.

Vickers' wife, Shawana Vickers of Ocala, cheered vociferously for her husband during the contest, and repeatedly said "Yes, Lord" as one of the judges told Vickers that they expect to see him winning a gospel Grammy one day.

As the winner of the contest, Vickers was awarded a deal to have Noiz of Zion produce a 12-song album at no cost. As the runner-up, Boston will get the opportunity to have Noiz of Zion produce one song for her.

Vickers, who twice competed on "Sunday Best," the BET gospel competition, said winning the sing-off was a blessing because his sole purpose for participating was to hopefully win a soul to Christ.

"It's a blessing to win this and I'm just grateful to God that this opportunity was presented to me and I'm just glad that God saw fit for me to win," Vickers said. "I've been waiting to do this (make an album) for a mighty long time, and my wife and my mom and all of my siblings have pushed me to do it, and I have their support and everything, but most of all, I have God's support."

The Rev. Karl "The Rev" Anderson, senior co-pastor at Upper Room Church of God in Christ, presided over the sing-off and encouraged all of the contestants to use the opportunity to learn from the judges' feedback.

"We are all about educating local talent and we want you to grow from the feedback you are going to receive here today," Anderson said. "Though there is only going to be one official winner, all of you can be winners if you take the feedback you are going to receive here today and apply it to your careers."

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