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“Another scandalous faith-based TV series from Oprah?”

Oprah Winfrey’s recent interview with Harry and Meghan attracted 17.1 million US viewers and 11.4 million UK viewers, making it the biggest interview of 2021. The Wall Street Journal reported that CBS paid Winfrey’s production company Harpo Productions between $7 million and $9 million for the rights to air the interview.

Not content with bagging the biggest interview of the year, Oprah Winfrey and her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) are venturing further into the burgeoning faith-based programming market. Their first stint was the incredibly successful yet scandalous 5 season series; Greenleaf, which garnered 10 NAACP nominations with 3 wins.

Based on the story of the fictional Greenleaf family and their Memphis megachurch; Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, the series drew in over 3 million viewers when it premiered in 2016. With its real-life themes of deceit, greed, sibling rivalry, adulterous affairs, sexual immorality, and thirst for power, one would be forgiven for thinking that the series was loosely based on one of our modern day Black American mega churches.

OWN brought us the 2020 Holiday gospel music special dubbed "Our OWN Christmas" featuring some of gospel’s biggest names including Erica Campbell, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Kierra Sheard, and the Clark Sisters. The network is currently gearing up to air “Our OWN Easter” on the 30th of March. Hosted by Grammy award winner Bebe Winans and Greenleaf star - Deborah Joy Winans, “Our OWN Easter” will celebrate the glory of the resurrection. The one-hour gospel music special will interweave musical performances by Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans, Jonathan McReynolds and others, with spoken words from faith leaders such as Priscilla Shirer, Bishop J Drew Sheard and Bishop William Murphy.

OWN recently announced a brand-new gospel-based reality show set to air on the network. Aptly titled Young and Gospel, the series will showcase the lives of four of gospel’s hottest young artists; Jekalyn Carr, Koryn Hawthorne, Bri Babineaux and Christian rapper Wande.

The Voice alum Koryn Hawthorne previously appeared on Season 5 of WE tv’s “Mary Mary” reality show. Fans will recall that producer Warryn Campbell was faced with the dilemma of forming a new Mary Mary when Tina Campbell refused to record a new project. Fresh faced 18-year-old Koryn Hawthorne was drafted in as the potential replacement . Hawthorne has since gone on to craft a successful career for herself, winning a Billboard Music Award, a Stellar Award and two GMA Dove Awards.

Young and Gospel will likely include footage of “Changing your story” singer Jekalyn Carr and her new beau American footballer, Jawaan Taylor. Carr has pleasantly surprised her Instagram followers by going public with Jawaan, and a recent IG story left many wondering whether wedding bells will soon to ring. Hopefully all will be revealed in Young and Gospel.

Bri Babineaux has been noticeably absent from Faith City Music lately yet no official statement has been released from her camp. Will Young and Gospel shed light on whether Spirit of Faith fired their assistant worship pastor? We’ll have to watch to find out.

Mutiat Yewande Isola, professionally known as Wande, is Reach record’s first female artist in the label’s 16-year legacy. Fresh off her Grammy’s “Positive Vibes Only” series performance, the recently engaged 25-year-old is now fully engrossed in wedding planning and this could possibly be captured in the reality show.

According to wclk.com, OWN has ordered two new unscripted series to development, “Back to the Altar” about divorced couples working to mend their broken relationships, and “Love & Faith” following the women behind some of the faith community’s best-known pastors. “We are excited to premiere music specials on OWN for the first time and to create new original unscripted programming that will lift up the spirits of so many viewers through the power of storytelling,” said Tina Perry, president of OWN.

Written by Akosua DF, Premier Gospel Presenter

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