Some artists may seem more concerned with racking up record sales and material possessions than staying true to their music, but not Yolanda Adams. Collecting massive props throughout her stellar career, the contemporary gospel powerhouse and Houston native refuses to compromise her potent spiritual message.
From her professional beginnings as a Southeast Inspirational Choir featured soloist in 1985 to her current success with Mountain High…Valley Low (including the song "Open My Heart," which broke records as No. 10 on Billboard's R&B chart) sister Yolanda has tongues testifying over a voice that's as mighty as the spirit that moves her. As she caught a breath during her busy schedule, we caught up with her to talk about her music, her muses and the baby that's on the way.
Why do you feel your music resonates with mainstream and gospel listeners alike?
Because I think everyone who's ever gone through anything understands that that's the time to get in touch with God. My music comforts and encourages people; it lets them know that they're not by themselves and that they can have a relationship with God. That's what "Open My Heart" did. God is not so complicated that you can't get to Him; all you have to do is exactly what the song says.
You recently recorded a duet with Sting. How did that come about?
My friend, [producer] Narada Michael Walden, was working on the UNICEF album [ Tomorrow's Children]. Sting wanted to do a duet with someone, and everyone said, "Why don't we get Yolanda?" Narada sent Mountain and several other albums to Sting, who said, "I've got to do it with her!" It was an awesome recording for me — Sting is a legend; he's done everything in music. And I'm in the room singing with him. It was just cool!
What music inspires you?
I listen to everybody — Nancy Wilson, Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige — and everybody in gospel music, from the quartets (the Williams Brothers, The Mighty Clouds of Joy) to Shirley Caesar and Albertina Walker. I listen to different people, according to what I'm doing that day. If I'm doing something around the house, it's Whitney's The Greatest Hits; if I'm contemplative, it's Oleta Adams.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Is this the first? When is the big date?
Baby's due Jan. 25th! Right around the corner, girl. It's been wonderful. You never really understand the depth of creation until it's a part of you. It's beautiful.
How do you divide time between your professional and personal life?
By having a very understanding husband [financial advisor and former NFL player Timothy Crawford Jr.]! He's one of the best things in my life. He flew up on weekends during the tour, then he'd go back early Monday when the stock market opened. You learn what's important, and there are times when you just have to say "no" because the music will always be there.