Andrea (pronounced Ahn-drea) Helms is a lifelong singer and worshipper. She brought the best of her talent and spirit to every performance as a contestant on Season 4 of BET’s Sunday Best, the world’s leading gospel competition television show. It took her to the show’s finale, where she was firstrunner up. Now she’s bringing her best to her debut CD as a Music World Gospel recording artist.
Moving Forward, which features songs she performed on Sunday Best, will be released in stores and online everywhere on March 6, 2012.
Andrea thought about auditioning for Sunday Best for two years before the opportunity presented itself. “We just kept missing it. We would always catch the show during the tryout episodes and we wondered where you go to audition,” says Andrea. “I received a call from a friend who said they were going to be auditioning in Dallas and that I needed to go. Suddenly I started second-guessing myself and I almost didn’t go. But I showed up, and I was among thousands of people. I thought it would be a good learning experience. I didn’t really expect to make it as far as I did. I was surprised.”
Andrea believes that she came out of the Sunday Best experience stronger and more confident than when she went in. “It’s very taxing because not only are you singing for Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell—all these major artists—but you’re on national television,” she recalls. “You have to dig down deep into who you are and try to stay true to who you are, knowing that the only source that you have is God.”
Andrea felt it was especially intimidating to put her own stamp on songs made popular by outstanding singers such as Tremaine Hawkins and Whitney Houston, whose musicianship she most admires, along with Mariah Carey and Martha Munizzi. There is no doubt that she has successfully put her stamp on the seven songs on the CD. She offers a powerful, soulful and bluesy turn on Sunday Best judges Mary Mary’s song, “Yesterday,” which is her first single from the CD. Her version of Richard Smallwood’s classic “I Love the Lord” is uniquely her own. She also puts her own spin on the highly popular praise and worship song, “Because Of Who You Are,” written by Martha and Daniel Munizzi, as well as on Donald Lawrence’s songs “The Heaven Are Telling (A Mighty God We Serve) and “Encourage Yourself. And as an iTunes exclusive only, she presents a worshipful take on “Wind Beneath My Wings,” written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar (this song will not be on the CD project).
One of the most talked about moments of the season was when Amber Bullock and Andrea Helms performed a duet, “Moving Forward,” penned by Ricardo Sanchez during the show’s finale. Andrea and Amber offer a powerful rendition of that song for this CD.
Andrea is especially drawn to the song, “Change,” on the CD because of her personal story. The recording includes some of her testimony. “From the time that my mother was carrying me, doctors told her that I would be a vegetable and that I would never talk or walk, but I was born a healthy 8 pound 2 ounce baby,” she said. “God performed a miracle. I wasn’t even supposed to be able to talk, and He gave me the ability to sing. Then, years later, when I had my son, I dealt with severe postpartum depression that literally caused me to have suicidal tendencies. I was still leading worship through it all, but it was really a rough, rough, time. I don’t remember a lot of my son’s first year being here with me because I was not in the right frame of mind. My mom is a fireball and a prayer warrior and she prayed me through it. I think God leads us through places like that so that we can minister to other people. Now I walk my victory out every day and I can speak to women and understand where they are coming from. So God has really changed me and that’s why that song means something to me.”
The CD was recorded at Music World Studios, which Andrea described as an “amazing place with a great staff.” The songs were produced by H. Doobie Powell for Chip Off The Block Productions, who Andrea describes as “a genius.”
Born in Odessa Texas, Andrea was an only child and the daughter of a preacher who was also an accomplished musician. Music was always a part of her life at home, at school, and at Friendship Church in Denton, Texas, where her father was pastor.
While in high school she won a position in the Texas All State Choir for three consecutive years, being named first chair soprano two of those years. Her junior year earned her first place in NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competition, which encompassed the southern United States. Her senior year she won the Young Artist Competition, receiving a cash prize and the opportunity to solo with the Richardson Symphony Orchestra.
When she graduated from high school in 1992, she became minister of music at Friendship Church, where she led worship and directed the adult and children’s choirs and the band. She remained there until 1998.
Andrea met her husband, Michael, at Friendship Church when his family came there when she was 13 and he was 15. “From the time we first saw each other, we knew we were supposed to be together,” she said. They started dating when she was 15, and later Michael worked for the church in the outreach ministry and eventually became youth pastor. Andrea and Michael were married in 1993. In 1998 they were called to pastor another church and they left Friendship. After her father’s death, Andrea and Michael returned to Denton to co-pastor the church, where Andrea has resumed her role as minister of music.
Andrea describes her church as “a place that meets almost every need.” A nondenominational church with an interracial congregation between 300 and 500 people, it serves young and old and ministers to “anyone who comes to the door.”
Besides completing her CD, Andrea has been traveling around the country to minister in song. She recently was featured in the Jacksonville, Florida run of T.J. Hemphill’s play, Perilous Times II, with Music World label mate Le’Andria Johnson, Season 3 winner of Sunday Best. Andrea also has been asked by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family to sing at his birthday celebration in Atlanta in January 2012. “This is probably the greatest honor that I’ve had in my entire life,” she said of the invitation.
Andrea is looking forward to what comes next as a result of Sunday Best and the CD. “When you start walking through the doors that God opens, you never know what’s behind that door,” she said. “I really would like to have a platform for my husband and me to share our ministry with the world. I want people to know who we are together and so I’m anxious to see what becomes of that.”
Her greatest goal, however, is to use her music to connect people with Jesus. “I want people to know how big Jesus is through what I sing,” she says. “I want them to know that he is real and that you don’t have to be cleaned up to come to Jesus, you can come as you are. And if that’s accomplished, then my mission is complete.”