Gospel's Powerhouse, Gospel Dream Winner continues to evolve with a new generation of artists finding new ways of bringing their message to the people. Benita Washington, who first burst on the scene when she won Bishop Paul S. Morton's first Gospel Dream competition and toured with CeCe Winans, has an inspired talent that ranges across the full spectrum of gospel expression, encompassing R & B/ soul, jazz, contemporary Christian, modern Praise & Worship, and traditional gospel
Benita Washington was born in Selma, Alabama, but her father was in the military and the family moved around a lot. Her earliest memory is of singing Stacy Lattisaw’s R&B hit "Love On A Two-Way Street" at age three in the bathtub. At a young age she sang in children's choirs at church. When she was seven years old, she made her solo stage debut in a talent show that her older siblings were also in. "That was the first time my family knew I was gifted in song," Benita says. "My parents made efforts to have me 'discovered.' I did a lot of talent shows and ended up winning a big talent show in Louisville at age 10. But when my father noticed I wasn't all that enthusiastic about practicing, I said 'Daddy I don't think I'm supposed to sing love songs. I think I'm supposed to sing for God." I had been singing in church all along and I always felt connected more to the spiritual side of singing."
Moving to Nashville to pursue a gospel singing career, Benita was encouraged by her pastor and her husband, Delvin Washington, to enter the Gospel Dream competition. To Benita's surprise, since she hadn't felt she had performed at her best, she won. Her Gospel Dream triumph led to a deal with Light Records, who released her debut album Hold On in 2004, which peaked at #6 on the Billboard Gospel chart while the lead single, "Thank You" rose to #3 on the gospel radio charts, holding that spot for three weeks. The album was also nominated for a Soul Train Lady Of Soul award for Best Gospel Album. Benita's obvious talent led to touring with CeCe Winans, who gave her a featured segment on the Throne Room Tour. Her second album, Renaissance: Live In Nashville was true praise-and-worship experience that demonstrated her ability to minister through music.
In addition to her work as a performer and recording artist, Benita is Praise And Worship Director at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, one of the largest churches in the country. A true Proverbs 31 woman, Benita is a proud wife and mother of two children. "Balancing work, church, music and family sometimes feels like a
tightrope--one false move and I'm going to fall down!" Benita says. "At those times I'm reminded of the wonderful support system I have with my husband and children. And there's no greater safety net than God, so even if I fall, He catches me. ," Benita explains," True, people are ministered to through song--uplifted, comforted, even healed. But I think it is a jumping off point that enables me to talk to young girls about anything. A group of young ladies emailed me through Facebook and said they wanted to grow into the type of woman that I am. I can let them know that they don't have to be ashamed of the things they go through and give them the tools to do better. The music is a conversation starter and helps them feel comfortable talking to me. Young women can't always talk to their parents."