Local gospel groups filled the Ramada Inn ballroom in New Carrollton last weekend for the Washington Metropolitan Area Quartet Association's seventh annual awards program.

The event produced an array of toe-tapping melodies from such groups as the Angels of Peace, Shephards of Joy and the Spiritual Brothers.

The Gospel Pearls won first place in the Best Performance and Best Dressed female quartet categories. The Southern Gospel Singers took first place for Best Performance and Best Dressed in the male category.

In the mixed group category, the Zion Hill Gospel Singers won Best Performing Group and the Angels of Peace won the Best Dressed award.

Groups winning second- and third-place honors included the Four Echoes, Spiritual Brothers, Shephards of Joy and the Heavenly Sons.

The black-tie affair was a chance for the local gospel industry to showcase its talent. But J.C. Doggett, chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Quartet Association's board, said most of the artists came out for the same purpose: "We're just trying to present that down-home quartet sound and do it for the Lord."

-- HAMIL R. HARRIS

The Gospel Pearls were honored as Best Female Group by the Washington Metropolitan Area Quartet Association last weekend. From left, Brenda Little, Beatrice Cooper, Paulette Gooden and Verna Lucas sing for the audience.Winners hold their trophies at the Washington Metropolitan Area Quartet Association's annual banquet, which was held last weekend in New Carrollton.The award-winning Spiritual Brothers perform at the Washington Metropolitan Area Quartet Association's awards banquet.