Yolanda Adams: Full Of Grace

Grammy award-winning songstress Yolanda Adams has been astounding people around the world for years with her compassionate, soulful voice. Contrary to what some might think, Yolanda’s phenomenal success has contributed to some decline in optimism throughout the Gospel music industry. Her unique style and unyielding presence have transcended the boundaries between mainstream music and Gospel. Despite criticism for her crossover into the hearts of R&B and secular music fans, she has succeeded in becoming one of the most well respected and sought after artists of our time.

Yolanda’s latest album, Day By Day, features appearances from Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Mary Mary, and offers fans a combination of comfort, encouragement, spiritual strength and appreciation. AllHipHop.com Alternatives spoke with the vivacious singer via phone as she prepared to hit the stage in a Beaumont, Texas arena for a performance.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: This is your first album in over four years. Based on your consistency and timeliness in producing past albums, why was there such a gap in producing Day By Day?

Yolanda Adams: There was a buyout of the company. The album was done by the end of 2004, but people were not in place. We had to wait until the staff was in position to move on it. [Elektra was being folded into Atlantic]

AHHA: Your music is different from the old, traditional Gospel music and many contemporary critics criticize you for it. How do you handle opposition?

Yolanda: I think they are confused about the type of music I do. I have never sung the traditional Gospel music. I have never been a traditional Gospel artist so they should not expect that of me. That is like asking Mariah Carey to sing opera. It is not going to happen.

AHHA: Many people refer to you as a Gospel artist, and then some people refer to you as an R&B artist. How do you categorize yourself?

Yolanda: I am just an artist. I prefer to be referred to as just an artist.

AHHA: You use to be a school teacher and model as well - you grew up in the church though. Was it always your goal and dream to be an award winning national Gospel artist?

Yolanda: No! I just wanted to teach school and be a principal. It just happened. I was already singing with a choir that was recording, and a producer asked me if I wanted to do an album. I asked him if it was going to cost me anything. He said no so I was like okay! That was back in ‘88. Now I am 13 albums later.

AHHA: Your music is so inspirational. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Yolanda: The Bible. My daughter. My Family. They all keep me inspired. God has truly blessed me.

AHHA: Your tour is called Yolanda Today. I noticed you have featured artists such as Chaka Khan, Eddie Levert, and Mary Mary. You incorporate different genres into your music and your tours. How important is that to you?

Yolanda: I believe everybody has a testimony, and when I work with artists such as Chaka Khan and Eddie Levert, I want people to hear their testimony. I think that is important. It is amazing - everyone has been through something.

AHHA: Do you feel by incorporating different genres into your music, you will get your message across to the younger generations?

Yolanda: Young people, old people. People in general - anybody that will listen. I try to reach everybody.

AHHA: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced “Open My Heart”, which was a tremendous success. What was it like working with them?

Yolanda: Absolutely fantastic! They are great. We were all really good friends. I was excited about working with them - I loved it. The experience was incredible.

AHHA: How would you describe the impact of Gospel within our society today?

Yolanda: It has one of the most wonderful impacts ever. It takes you to another level. God is great. He can do so many things.

AHHA: Besides yourself, what other Gospel artists do you consider a great representation in our community?

Yolanda: Oh my goodness. Kirk Franklin, Donna McClurkin, Mary Mary. There are so many. Everybody who is doing Gospel music. They are all wonderful. We are all making a difference.

AHHA: You recently went through a divorce with former NFL player Timothy Crawford. How receptive or supportive has the Gospel community been to you in such a situation?

Yolanda: Well, people are people, but the entire Gospel community rallied around me. They were a great support group. I have a great family as well - I am a very private person too. By the time everyone found out about it, it had happened and it was over.

AHHA: What is different from the Yolanda Adams eight years ago to the Yolanda Adams today?

Yolanda: Life! Experiences in life. That says it all.

AHHA: You have won several awards, four being BET Best Gospel Artist. You are around several different genres of music. You have seen many different performances, from Hip Hop to R & B. Now as a Gospel artist, when you are sitting in that audience or even just in general–how do you feel about Hip Hop and R & B today with all the flashy cars, women, jewelry, and videos from a personal and inspirational standpoint?

Yolanda: Well, you can’t summarize it all. I do not like when people do me like that. There are some great Hip Hop and R & B artists that are trying to make a difference. In my opinion, music has always had a sexual taste to it. From Rap to Rock - especially Rock - to R&B, it has always been like that for years. Now for some, with all the women and the videos, they may need to cool out on that part of it - but they may also need that to sell records.

AHHA: Are there any artists that you haven’t worked with that you would like to work with in the future?

Yolanda: Yes. I would love to do something with Mary J. Blige. Her life is a testimony in itself. She is a great example of what a woman does when she is fed up. I applaud her. She represents well. God can do so many things. He is great. God can do so much when you give your life to Him.

AHHA: I know children are very important to you and you work with kids a lot in the community. Teaching was also one of your passions. I hear you have some future plans coming up that will incorporate them both.

Yolanda: Yes definitely. We are launching My Voice of Angel Foundation this year. We are working with children who want to get into the educational field. We are giving them that opportunity. Also, my Angel Heart Home. This will be a school for the arts, teaching anywhere from dance, modern dance, to vocal training. We will provide tutoring as well.

AHHA: I know I personally listened to “Someone Is Watching Over You” and loved it. It is very inspirational and uplifting. When I listened to it, I couldn’t help but wonder what you may have been going through when you wrote a song of such caliber and strength.

Yolanda: I actually didn’t write that song but a good friend of mine wrote it. It was based on different scenarios and things they were going through. I actually do write most of my music. They are all based on experiences and things we may have encountered. Sometimes it may not be experiences of mine, but of friends and family or even fans. Fans email us and ask questions. They want advice on a lot of things and I may take my inspiration to write from them. There are so many things.

AHHA: What does Yolanda Adams personally listen to on a day to day basis? What artists do you like?

Yolanda: Oh, there are so many. I listen to a lot of Jazz, a lot of symphony music. I also listen to Nancy Wilson and Donna Hathaway. There are so many great and talented artists out there.

AHHA: You have a lot of fans who have followed you throughout your career dating back to “88. Is there anything else you would like them to know or say to those who have followed your success for so long?

Yolanda: Yes. I thank my fans all the time. I love them and appreciate them for everything. Thank you all for everything. God is absolutely great.