This story contains corrected information.

Gadsden gospel group Exodus won the 2017 Singing News Ultimate Talent Contest, held in July in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

The contest was made up of 10 semifinalists drawn from all around the country, competing for the right to appear in several concerts around the country, including the Dollywood Harvest Festival in Tennessee.

“It made a lot of great opportunities to take our ministry before more people,” said Susan Brady, member of Exodus. “It wasn’t money or recording; most contests are usually for recording contracts, but this one was just a little bit different, and that’s what attracted us.”

There’s also the exposure that a win brings; Singing News, for those who don’t mix in gospel circles, is one of the biggest, oldest gospel news and promotions companies in the country. That reach was visible in the mix of performers, some of whom came from Canada, Texas and parts in between.

Runners up were Matt Linton, of Texas, and Then Came Sunday, from Arkansas.

Brady said the group was a bit nervous, but they put winning into God’s hands.

“We tried to be prepared and we worked and did our best and rehearsed, and we did the best we possibly could, and left the rest up to the Lord,” said Brady. “We were shocked, surprised and so very, very happy.”

The singer founded Exodus in 2011 with Mike Watson and Mary Scott. Watson’s son, Cole, took his father’s role in the group last year, and Watson is expected to return to the stage after a hiatus, alongside his son and the other members.

Brady’s daughter, Hannah, joined the group as a potential fill-in for her mother at the Singing News contest, only to join her on stage instead.

“She did such a good job and people seemed to accept her,” said Brady. “We knew this was another way Exodus was growing. She’s with us full time now.”

The win brought about more changes for the band than guaranteed spots at big shows: Christian songwriter Phil Cross worked with the band to produce a music video for “Behold the Lamb,” a song co-written by Brady and Cross that was performed at the contest. Cross is a winner of various songwriting awards, including the 1998 and 2002 songwriter of the year awards from the Southern Gospel Music Association.

The band also bought a tour bus, complete with couches and bunks for longer trips, though Brady said the group prefers to come home overnight when they can. The vehicle came their way, said Brady, as part of a deal that seemed too good to be true, but one she saw the hand of God in.

“He has been with us through all of this,” said Brady. “God has been blessing us all along.”

Visit exodus-southerngospel.com for a complete list of upcoming shows.