More than 2.6 million total viewers tuned in to BET’s annual special “Celebration of Gospel” when it premiered on April 6, making it the number one gospel/religious telecast on TV for 14 consecutive years.
A celebration of faith through music, this year’s special featured an all-star roster of performances including Tamela Mann, Kem, Yolanda Adams, Charlie Wilson, Zacardi Cortez, SWV, Candice Glover, Donnie McClurkin, Tasha Page Lockart, India Arie, Jonathan McReynolds, Erica Campbell, Rance Allen Group, Tasha Cobbs, Tye Tribbett, Le’Andria Johnson and a host of others.
Despite its stellar ratings and continued success, BET revealed during their upfront presentation to advertisers in New York that “Celebration of Gospel” would not return as one of its “Mega-Specials.” The network is bringing back the “BET Awards,” “Black Girls Rock,” “BET Hip Hop Awards,” and “BET Honors.”
“Celebration of Gospel” premiered in 2000 and comedian Steve Harvey hosted the show for 13 years. The “Original Kings of Comedy” funnyman didn’t return for the 2014 special due to his hectic schedule.
Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson took over “COG” as the host for the first time during this year’s telecast.
In 2010, Grammy winner Whitney Houston made a surprise appearance on “Celebration of Gospel,” where she performed a duet of her hit single ‘I Look To You’ with best friend Kim Burrell.
The special, which aired in 2011, would be one of Houston’s last television appearances before dying in 2012. BET said they “had no idea” why the network has opted to cancel the top-rated special.
In December 2012, Holmes’ show was quietly canceled and BET never commented on the matter again.
As of May 5, 2014, BET has yet to respond to official inquiries about the cancellation of “COG.” Speculations state that the network’s decision to end the 14-year franchise is based off the advertising department’s inability to sell the show to sponsors. Because “COG” is not financially lucrative for BET despite good ratings, they have opted to end the special.
The network is overwhelmed by the response and outcry from the faith-based community regarding the demise of “COG” and could potentially reconsider. As of now, the show remains canceled.