Saturday, June 24, 2017

YOLANDA ADAMS: Celebrating Heavenly Sounds!

BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD

Yolanda Adams

Airing April 7, the 13th annual BET Celebration of Gospel will feature performances by Donnie McClurkin, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Israel Houghton, Tye Tribbett, Anthony Brown, Tamela Mann and hosted by comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey. To many, the headliner will be Grammy winner Yolanda Adams, who spoke exclusively with Las Vegas Black Image Magazine about life and finding true happiness.

Tell us about BET’s Celebration of Gospel.

Oh my God! The BET Celebration of Gospel was awesome. I got a chance to see all of my favorite gospel artists and some of my favorite R&B and jazz artists, including Anita Baker, who I love so much. Tyrese Gibson — who was very good, and Donnie McClurkin. Everything was so good!

What went on behind the scenes at the BET Celebration of Gospel?

Something that people don’t necessarily get a chance to see is the camaraderie backstage between the musical artists and the presenters — who include a lot of Academy Award and Emmy winners. It’s like a family back there, great people. Steve Harvey is hilarious, and is like a big brother to me. It is easy for us to all hang out, and he kept me and Donnie McClurkin laughing.

What song did you perform?

I performed Keith Pringle’s “When All God’s Children Get Together.”

What are some of your present projects?

I have several projects we are working on. I have my own bath and body line called Simply Yolanda, and it will be online on my Yolandaadamslive.com website this Mother’s Day. Also, you will be able to see all of our upcoming concerts, which include those abroad in Korea, China and London. I will be back in the recording studio with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to record my new project, which will be out in the first quarter of 2014. Also, I host my own syndicated radio show in 48 markets.

"Gospel music is the root of a lot of music. So, it can't go out of style." - Yolanda Adams

What makes a “real” gospel artist?

A real gospel artist is anyone who is singing about the goodness of God. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I don’t believe that most musical artists say, “I am going to do a good R&B-feeling album” or anything else. Many artists just write the songs, and whatever it feels like, that is where you send it. Radio stations may pick it up, if it is a good crossover song. It is usually determined by the music industry’s A&R departments and radio stations, as to who they market your songs to. It is a blessing to have crossover appeal, but I don’t do it to have it. I make the music to get the message of Jesus out.

Do you see yourself collaborating with non gospel artists in the near future?

Yes, Anita Baker and I have been talking about doing a song together for a couple of years now, but we are just still trying to find room in our schedules. She is a very strong Christian, and I really love her. We have a long-running friendship. I also have a great friendship with jazz icon Nancy Wilson. To sing something with her would be amazing for me.

You recently spoke directly to young secular musical artists at a recent awards show, as it relates to the message they are giving our young people. Can you expound on that?

As musical artists, we have to be very careful with what we are sending out to the world. Back in the day, you would see legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, who would be in their gowns and looking gorgeous. Now we see some artists half-clothed on … television, who are cursing between their lyrics. We have a responsibility as good stewards of this Earth to do what God said to do. If you want to do an explicit album, that is your business  — but don’t do it on national television. Let the select public who wants to get your explicit album get it wherever they get it. But don’t subject the viewing audience to something that they are unaware of, because they don’t know what you are offering musically.

Who were some of your first musical influences?

Wow! Everything from James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, Mahalia Jackson, Sly & The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder — we had everything playing in my house when I grew up. My mother was a music major, so she made sure we were musically cultured from bluegrass to Bach and Beethoven.

Why will gospel music never go out of style?

Gospel music is the root of a lot of music. So, it can’t go out of style. It’s always encouraging and encouragement never goes out of style. It has a message that lifts and is uplifting, which never goes out of style. So, gospel music will never go out of style. It is here to stay.

How was it working on President Obama’s campaign?

It was wonderful. I was an appointed surrogate on his last campaign. I got a chance to do a lot of groundwork in Ohio. We were in major markets, making sure we got the votes out and making sure that people understood what was at stake. Young men and women have the power and a voice in their vote. That was my message to young people. I want them to never take for granted what people fought for and died for — their right to vote.

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