A Pensacola teen has actually sung his way into America’s heart and also won BET’s “Sunday Best: race to the Stage” competition.

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DeWayne Crocker Jr., 19, beat out much more than 15,000 various other entrants to victory the online dispute — but it virtually didn’t happen.

“I uploaded my video on the critical day, June 19,” stated Crocker, a 2015 Escambia High graduate. “I remained in Memphis recording my single, ‘I don’t Know,’ and also decided to go ahead and do it. In ~ first, ns wasn’t even going to do it.”

But the did and his rendition the “Precious Lord,” garnered him among 10 point out to brand-new York City because that the “Race to the Stage” preliminary competition. The finalists were selected based upon vocal ability, vocal creativity, stage presence and also gospel ministry.

From there, it was left as much as online voters nationwide to press the young man who very first started singing duets in church with his sister, Selina Jones, when he to be 5 year old, on to the next level. The finalists’ videos were posted on the dispute webpage for users to poll for their favorite. Crocker is unsure how many votes the received, however it became clear beforehand that his smooth yet emotion-filled voice was a pan favorite.

Crocker’s delivery of “It Is Well v My Soul,” moved him into the top 5 and “I’ve viewed Him execute It” garnered him a height 3 spot. His sheathe of Marvin Sapp’s famous “So Glad i Made It” won him — at age 18, the youngest the the 10 early stage contestants — the as whole competition. He was announced the winner throughout the Sunday illustration of “Sunday Best” — a job after his birthday.

This Sunday, he will carry out live throughout the “Sunday Best” finale. He is doesn’t recognize what track he’ll song yet, yet will fly to Atlanta ~ above Thursday whereby “Sunday Best” held by Kirk Franklin is taped. Celebrity judges for the truth talent present include gospel music greats, Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and also Kierra Sheard.

Growing up, Crocker sang in ~ area churches but it was after he won a Pensacola High talent display at period 13, that he ended up being serious around music.

“There was a grand prize, ns think $750 because that the talent show, and I to be so surprised i won. There was a group completing that i felt was much better but they go an R&B song and I sang a gospel tune that simply moved the audience,” that remembered.

Crocker ongoing to perform approximately Pensacola and entered an ext talent contests. While in high school, he also auditioned for the “X-Factor” once and also “The Voice” twice where he made the as much as the 2nd round each time. As soon as the “Race come the Stage” competition come around, that threw his hat ago in the ring.

He stated after submitting the video to BET, he no hear earlier and assumed the hadn’t do the cut.

“I went out and also got a project at Alorica, but I likewise was the minister the music at brand-new Birth Missionary Baptist Church. About a mainly after ns was an alleged to hear ago from BET, I gained the email that said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve to be selected because that ‘Race to the Stage.’ I just screamed, it to be such a shock,” Crocker claimed of the email he got in early July.

His advocate and also manager, Elrico Tunstall, qualities Crocker’s appeal to his an individual philosophy — “Young, Fly and also Saved.”

“Everything the he does — indigenous his choice of music to the way he dresses is to appeal come all eras — from a 6-year-old pan to one in your 70s or 80s,” Tunstall said. “He’s additionally proof that the boy who loves the arts can accomplish his or her dreams. You might not be the best athlete however maybe her gift is the instrument of your voice, an ability to supply a music note on a piano or an additional musical instrument or it is in a intuitive artist.”

Tunstall likewise credits Crocker’s parents, the Revs. Rodney and LaTasha Jones, to keeping him grounded and involved in church transparent his childhood.

“He very first started singing in church gift nurtured by supportive parents and also his family,” Tunstall said.

Devin Tucker, Crocker’s stylist and longtime acquaintance, claimed he’s no at all shocked v the singer’s success.

“I already knew he had actually the talent, and also knew he would certainly make that if he obtained the ideal exposure,” stated Tucker, who has been working with Crocker for nearly a year. “There’s no doubt, he’s very talented in his very own right. I am surprised that he’s taken off so quickly yet he has actually worked and also done what he essential to carry out be successful.”

When asked how he arisen Crocker’s signature style, Tucker, 2005 Tate High graduate, stated it was easy.

“It follows the principle of ‘Young, Fly and Saved,’ we wanted it it is in youthful, trendy and also fashionable — thus the leather jackets and hats — but it needed to appeal to all of his fans,” the added.

Crocker additionally has an outstanding social media presence. He has an ext than 35,000 pendant on his two Facebook pages, 4,000 ~ above Twitter, more than 3,500 his YouTube channel and just over 2,700 top top Instagram.

“Michelle Williams (formerly the Destiny’s Child) and comedian Rickey Smiley have both common DeWayne’s sheathe of ‘I’ve gained It’ by the spirit Seekers,” Tunstall added.

Crocker, on the other hand, stated he is most thankful come God for his gift and the fans who have actually supported him v his “Race to the Stage” competition and even before.

“I’ve continued to be rooted in gospel, I’ll carry out some modern music but I love the old hymns,” that said. “Miss Sue Straughn (WEAR-TV news anchor) called me ‘To stick to what obtained you here,’ and that’s what ns doing.”

Crocker uses this advice to other young artists: “Don’t offer up on her dreams, just when girlfriend think it’s virtually over, the is as soon as the breakthrough is coming.”

DeWayne Crocker Jr.

•Winner the BET’s “Sunday Best: gyeongju to the Stage” competition.

Family: Son the the Revs. Rodney and LaTasha Jones, pastors of new World faithfulness Ministry; siblings: Selina Jones, 20; Rodrico Jones, 16; Ranajia Jones, 14; Romeo Jones, 12; and also Radageline Jones, 10; grandmothers: Linda Nobles and also Sylvia Stewart.

Education: 2015 Escambia High school graduate; enrolled in music and business classes in ~ Berkley college Online.

Career aspirations: come to be a gospel singer, entertainer

See DeWayne Crocker Jr.’s short rendition “Hold On,” by The Walls group at www.thedesigningfairy.com.

Upcoming performances

•DeWayne Crocker Jr., has won BET’s “Sunday Best: gyeongju to the Stage” competition. The will execute live ~ above the “Sunday Best” finale in ~ 7 p.m. Sunday on Cox channel 52 in Pensacola.

•The Young, Fly and also Saved endure featuring DeWayne Crocker Jr., and also Craigh Franklin is set for Sept. 11 and 12 at the Rex Theatre. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com, 5 Star cut Barbershop in Pensacola or call (850) 760-7872.

•DeWayne Crocker Jr., will certainly perform during the sisters II sisters Expo top top Sept. 21 in ~ the Arthur R. Outlaw cell phone Convention Center, 1 S. Water St., Mobile, Alabama. For more details, visit the sisters II sisters Expo on facebook page.

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•The Young, Fly and also Saved (nine-city) tour featuring DeWayne Crocker Jr., is reserved for the first three weeks in November.