Interview – Melvin Crispell III & Joshua Copeland (Sunday Best Finalists)
Season 9 of BET Sunday Best surpassed the bar of expectation, delivering a backpack full of unforgettable performances and touching testimonies, as the charismatic Kirk Franklin navigated BET’s flagship Gospel reality show with humor and high moments of praise.
By the end of the season, two likable stage titans, who could sing “flatfooted” were left standing in the end. Melvin Crispell III & Joshua Copeland, a couple of crusaders for the Kingdom impressed Kirk, the esteemed class of judges and millions of finicky viewers from coast to coast, leaving them as the deserving Final 2 in a class of all-star singers.
The journey was both life-changing and purpose-driven for these two exceptional vocalists. An emotional roller-coaster and illuminating experience, Melvin & Joshua reveal in an exclusive interview for BlackGospel.com that Sunday Best was much more than a contest for Christians.
Christopher Heron: What was the best thing and the most surprising thing that happened to each of you on Sunday Best?
Melvin Crispell III: The greatest part of this experience was learning to become an artist and do ministry, if that makes sense. I’m a worshiper at heart, so before Sunday Best, I was a worshipper. But I learned about being an artist, a performer and how to engage an audience. The experience was helpful. Getting advice from Gospel greats like Kirk Franklin, who’s the greatest of all time, Jonathan McReynolds, Kelly Price and Erica Campbell. Just being able to learn from them was amazing. The most surprising thing was seeing my grandmother, Carolyn Crispell. She’s never flown before. Just to know that she would sacrifice and come to the taping to make sure her baby was good, that was the most surprising thing for me.
Joshua Copeland: It’s been a great journey, to sing in the presence of Erica Campbell, Jonathan McReynolds, and Kelly Price who are legends. It’s so amazing to be in their presence. And not only that. You have the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) himself, Kirk Franklin. I will cherish all the memories that I had with him, certain things that he taught and shared with me on how to do certain things, to be who I am. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be in this situation. One of the surprising moments was when they brought my wife. I’m honored that they thought enough of me to bring someone that was dear to me, to spend some time with me, to help me in this journey. I’m forever grateful for that.
Christopher Heron: Time on Sunday Best has allowed you both to get acquainted with Kirk, Jonathan, Kelly, and Erica as well as some of the mentors and coaches along the way. Is there one artist that you connected with through this journey and why?
Melvin Crispell III: I would have to say Jonathan McReynolds. The reason is because, although he’s older than me, in the Gospel industry, he’s young. The way he presents his ministry, it’s different and I know I’m different. I’m a different type of artist. I now have new ways of presenting ministry. Watching him inspires me and lets me know that being different is okay. God is not one-sided. We put God into this box and I don’t know why. There are so many sides to God. Being different will show people another side of God and I want to bring that to the table. Just being a different kind of worshiper, I bring people to worship. Jonathan is a role model to me.
Joshua Copeland: I think all three of them are inspirational, especially Erica Campbell and Kelly Price because growing up, that’s who I listened to. When you talk about Erica Campbell, that’s Mary Mary, all day. I would listen to them getting ready for church. You think about all the hits that they had. And of course you’ve got Kelly Price who I also listened to growing up. She’s been an inspiration to me. I appreciate them, so much.
Christopher Heron: I had the opportunity to work on BET’s Joyful Noise so I understand a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes; waiting around in the Green Room, doing multiple retakes, getting instructions from the show director, etc. Is there an experience that didn’t make it to air that will stay with you forever, whether it was a Praise Break, a funny incident, a testimony or a word of encouragement?
Joshua Copeland: It’s funny. We were just talking about that. (Contestant) Tiffany Andrews gave this performance. She sung, God Is Trying To Tell You Something. After her performance the show went to commercial break and those of us in the studio had a good time. That’s a moment that I will cherish. That’s something you tell your kids about.
Melvin Crispell III: One of my favorite moments is when we were in the Final Top 20. We were in a room, waiting around for the eliminations to go from Top 20 to Top 10. We got together one last time and sung, Change. That right there was one of the most memorable moments for me, just to worship with each other and share the love of God. I think that was so amazing.
Joshua Copeland: I want to piggyback on what Melvin said. The interesting thing about the Top 20 is that we were a family. Even now, we still communicate with each other. We have a group chat. We talk and pray for one another. Any issues, we discuss with each other and pray about them. We’re a family; a Sunday Best Season 9 family.
Christopher Heron: Your journey on Sunday Best has been life-changing for both of you. I’m sure your phone is always blowing up. In your own words, how would you say this journey has changed you, both as an artist and man?
Joshua Copeland: It has changed my mindset to think differently. It’s built my self-esteem, to think higher than I used to think. It really helped me to understand that there is purpose in my life and that God has an awesome plan for me. If I stay the course, I’ll see the plan God has come to pass.
Melvin Crispell III: Through this journey, God has shown me, and I’m not talking about the judges, but God has shown me that He placed something inside of me that no man can take away. He’s opening doors that no man can shut. He’s qualified me for ministry, and He’s made me all that I am. As an artist, it has helped me because now I know how to engage an audience to get a message across. I want the audience to believe what I’m singing about because it’s true. Whatever I sing about, whatever comes out of my mouth, it’s truth. I wouldn’t say anything to you that I have not experienced. I’m so grateful and honored to be used by Him.