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Smokie Norful’s traditional open took me and my husband back to our childhood years of growing up in Memphis hearing “The Jubilee Hummingbirds” singing “I’m A Soldier” every Sunday morning while we were getting ready for church. Thank you Smokie for the memories!

Last night was the “second 10” performing traditional standards:

1. Isaiah Freeman IV, 24 (Cincinnati, OH) – Isaiah is auditioned in Atlanta and it’s just in him! His dad is a preacher and a gospel singer. Isaiah performed Kirk Franklin’s “My Life Is In Your Hands.” He added his own jazzy flavor, he was original and Kirk Franklin liked it.

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Comments: Pastor Donnie loved his uniqueness. Tina thought that he had an awesome stage presence. Erica compared him to Fred Hammond!

2. Annalisha Robbins (Anchorage, AK)-She auditioned in LA and is the baby of the bunch.  She also once opened up for Mary Mary when she was 11-years-old. She performed  a Yolanda Adams song.

Comments: Tina thought that Annalisha could have given more and wants her to return to give it her best! Erica is happy to see that she is still singing but that she has more developing to do. Pastor Donnie encouraged her to relax and make the music her own.

3. Roosevelt Griffin, 22 (Memphis, TN)-My homeboy has auditioned several times before in the past and finally made the top 20 by auditioning in Atlanta. He performed Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie thought Roosevelt came out with some shock value with the hard and high note first note! Tina thought he sang with power but started too high and stayed there with nowhere to go. He didn’t build the story, he went straight to climax. Erica said he needed to tell a story and he didn’t tell it well.

4. Sue Roseberry (Midland, TX) – This proud grandmother of 15 auditioned in Atlanta. She asked God to increase her territory so she could minister to many. And that she did! Go Mama Sue! Mama Sue took us straight into worship by singing “The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow” and got a standing ovation. If Kirk wouldn’t have stopped her we would still be in worship right now! Hallelujah! She did an encore and got a second standing ovation!

Comments: Pastor Donnie told Mama Sue that she had the anointing that brought the house to its feet. He told her that if she keeps that anointing she will always have the favor of God! All Tina could initially say was “Good God Almighty” and that to get a standing ovation the first time  was a signal that the others better bring it! Erica has penned Sue as our “Mama Sue.” Erica thanked her for her style of traditional singing that laid the foundation of her singing; even though Mary Mary’s style is different.

5. Eric Drew, 27, (Los Angeles, CA) – He has the swag of a rapper and the heart of a preacher. He loves bringing the Word for kids. He performed “The Presence of the Lord.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie said that he could sing but he needed to learn “how” to sing and be in control no matter what. Tina thought that he didn’t give enough, she thought he was okay and could tell by his face he was thinking too much and he didn’t draw her in. Erica said the he was pretty good; cool.

6. Felicia Russell (Dallas, TX)-Both of her sons encouraged her to audition and she even tried to leave the audition twice. This proves that it pays to listen to our children. She performed “Encourage Yourself.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie was amazed at the fear and terror on her face because  she has such a great voice. He felt that she needed more confidence and that she could do more than she gave herself credit for. Erica told her that she didn’t give her best and that next she wants to see more. Tina said that she believed in the God she sang about but that she didn’t believe feel that she believed in herself. She encouraged her to release herself and just give it!

7. Quentin Bethea, 21, (Charlotte, NC) – He auditioned 3 times and finally got his turn by auditioning in Dallas, TX. Tonight he performed the song “This Is My Story, This Is My Song.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie said that he didn’t connect spiritually and he needs to sing to make believe and want to pay attention to him. Tina encouraged him to overcome his fear by working to control his fear on stage no matter what. If you have fear, don’t show it and just release it! Erica said that at the end of the song he was off key and needs to figure out how to stay on key.

8. Timesha Sampson, 26 (Memphis, TN) – My home girl drove 400 miles to audition in Atlanta with $45 in her pocket, a tank of gas and a whole lot of faith! She performed “There Is No Way I Can Live Without You.”

Comments: Donnie said she went into a screaming match in the middle of the song, which messed it up from him. Tina believed her during the performance and loved the unique things she did with her voice; even though she could have been more in control. Erica said that she had a pretty voice, great energy and loved her smile. However, she was all over the place, it needed to flow, it was just too much and she could lose people.

9. Brian Bates, 39 (Huntsville, AL)-He sat outside in 26-degree weather in Atlanta for his audition. He performed “When We All Get to Heaven.” I have now penned him as “Bouncing Brian.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie said it wasn’t the bouncing that got him, it was the fact that Brian didn’t seem to know where he was going, therefore, Pastor Donnie didn’t know where he was going; which made him sit back and just wait for it to be over. Tina said that she could understand the excitement he had to be there but that his jumping was too much, overwhelming and that he needed to calm down. Erica felt his jumping was “nervous” jumping and that by bucking his eyes he was trying to get our attention. She thought he was sincere and appreciated his heart and energy.

10. Monica Smith, 30 (Greensboro, Alabama) – She is shy but shines on stage. She auditioned in Atlanta and she’s also a big Shirley Caesar fan! She performed Kirk Franklin’s “Silver and Gold” and ended the song with “Shirley Caesar” flavor; and got a standing ovation. This was truly a great way to wrap up the “second 10.”

Comments: Pastor Donnie labeled her as a straight-up southern “sanger,” not “singer” but “sanger!” All Tina could say was “Yeah Baby” and that she experienced what she didn’t experience at the audition. Erica loved her voice and the “preachiness” in her voice. She recommended that Monica work on her stage presence.

Top 12

1. Amber Bullock (St. Louis, MI)

2. Michael Pugh (Brooklyn, NY)

3. Isaiah Freeman (Cincinnati, OH)

4. Monica Smith (Greensboro, Alabama)

5. Michael Washington (Los Angeles, CA)

6. Andrea Helms (Dallas, TX)

7. Carlington Roberts (McDonough, GA)

8. Sue Roseberry (Midland, TX)

9. Felisha Russell (Dallas, TX)

Competing for that 10th place spot:

Timesha Sampson (Memphis, TN)

Latrice Smith (Macon, GA)

Shandandolan Reynolds (Dallas, TX)

  Next week “The 12” will perform old school a capella!

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