Season 9 of the gospel singing competition returns after a four-year hiatus with Grammy Award-winning music legend Kirk Franklin as host. Music artists Erica Campbell, Kelly Price and Jonathan McReynolds serve on the panel of judges. With a new stage and themed challenges, this season promises to be the toughest one yet. Season 9 kicks off with in-person auditions in front of the judges as they narrow the field from 20 to the top 12. Contestants were able to use an online submission process for the first time, after which the team undertakes a global search for this year’s contestants, leading up to live auditions in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Lagos, Nigeria, London, and Johannesburg.