This renaissance woman filled us in on her new book, her time on “Sunday Best” and the psalm that kept her sane during her divorce.
She is perhaps best-known for her soul-touching voice, filled with angelic clarity and capable of moving audiences to tears. But, four-time Grammy award-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams has proven that she is a true renaissance woman with talents that extend far beyond the music industry. Hope for Women caught up with Yolanda during a busy morning spent running errands with her 9-year-old daughter, Taylor. She filled us in on her time as a judge on BET’s “Sunday Best” (winner Leandria Johnson was recently announced), her new book and a few words of wisdom.
HOPE: How did you get involved with “Sunday Best”?
Adams: First of all, because Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary are dear friends of mine and you know the folks at BET, I love them a whole bunch. Erica Campbell [of gospel duo Mary Mary] was set to deliver her baby during the time that they were supposed to be taping. She told them, “Hey, we should [use] somebody that we know and trust.” And, I was on that list so I was glad that I was able to do it.
HOPE: What unique flavor do you feel you bring to the show?
Adams: I don’t think I’m so unique because the show is already amazing. I think what I do is bring a bit more experience because I’ve been in the music industry now for well over 30 years, and I just believe that is one of the things that excited them about my presence.
HOPE: What was the most unexpected aspect?
Adams: The caliber of talent this year is so amazing that you never know what you are going to get. These people are really, really singing. They are singing their hearts out, so that was good.
HOPE: What was your favorite part of working on the show?
Adams: Giving sound advice that folks can learn from and use in their daily lives, not just on the show. They have to learn how to be patient. They have to learn how to do everything in excellence. I tell people that’s one of the things you have to strive for in any endeavor whether it’s business or motherhood.
HOPE: I wanted to talk a little bit about your book, “Points of Power,” which hit bookstores back in January. What has the reception for the book been like?
Adams: It has been really wonderful. We do the “Points of Power” on the radio show, which means that people already have a sense of what they are and can now refer back to some of the things that I’ve said on the air as well as find out some new things about me. They’ll say, “I didn’t realize that you played tennis.”
HOPE: Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
Adams: Folks have been wanting me to write one for a long time, but my thing was, I got to have something to say. I don’t just want to write a book for the sake of writing a book. When I got a chance to do this, it was so excellent because you get a chance to put your heart on paper. A lot of people don’t get a chance to do some of the great things that we’ve been able to do in our ministry.
HOPE: What was it like going through the whole process of writing and publishing a book? How is that similar to and different from the creative process you’ve experienced in the studio?
Adams: The similarities are that you have to have the time. If you don’t have the time do something in excellence, hey, don’t even do it. And, one of the things that I had to do was that I had to write when I was in Korea (on tour) and when I was on my vacation.
You could go through life making excuses forever and ever and ever, but what are you going to do when God gives you a mandate to do something? Hey, you do it. I’ve always been a time manager. But, now I know how to do it when I have a whole bunch of things to do because usually what happens with our trips to other countries is they’ve been booked almost a year or two in advance, so you have to make sure that you make enough time for all of those things that have to do with the making of a great book, and I think we have one.
HOPE: Is there a single or key message you also want readers to come away with after reading it?
Adams: One of those most important ones is, give yourself breathing room. Give yourself living room. I was talking to my daughter (Taylor) the other day, and she said something so profound. She said, “Mom, why is it called the living room if you don’t really live in it? Most people won’t let you sit down in the living room.” I said, “Oh, my God. Look at this wisdom coming from a child.” That is the reason I do everything I do. I want people to learn how to live successfully because you really can—whether you have a husband or whether you don’t. Whether you have a boyfriend, girlfriend; it doesn’t matter. You can live successfully until that part of your life comes to fruition. I take a really open look at myself and I laugh at myself a lot in the book. We take life so seriously and we beat ourselves up on so many accounts for really nothing because the truth is it’s all going to work out. God has a plan for us, and if we stick to that plan, I’ll guarantee you he’ll show you how to make it come out to be the best that it can be.
HOPE: I was reading that you went through a divorce about five years ago. What scripture do you tend to turn to during your most difficult times in life, and what advice would you offer anyone going through a hard time?
Adams: I read Psalm 91 I think almost three weeks straight every morning to encourage myself. Again, when I say folks beat themselves up unnecessarily, we really do because what we do is we try to figure out, “Well, how could I have done that better? Is there anything that I could have done to make him love me better or make her love me better?” We try to self-correct and in self-correcting, we lose ourselves. Some people just can’t take being loved honestly and being loved without restrictions. Everybody wants this real love. But, when they get it, do they know what to do with it?
So, one of the things I would tell anyone who’s going through a hard time, whether it’s divorce or being laid off, is just know that this is not the way that it’s going to be for the rest of your life. There is a plan. God always has a plan. And, he never leaves you by yourself while he’s helping you fend through that plan. Make sure that you are being honest with yourself that you’ve done everything that you could possibly do to be the best you that you can be. And, start concentrating on loving yourself. When you love yourself, nobody else can talk about what you need to do and how you need to straighten this up, and fix this or fix that.
HOPE: Our readers are dying to know when do you plan to get back into the recording studio for another album release?
Adams: We are trying very hard to get into the studio before the last quarter because I’ve had Jimmy [Jam] and Terry [Lewis] on me. And they’re right. It is time. It was just that there were so many wonderful things happening in my life like the morning show and my clothing line. I’m also coming out with a food product that will help young people get their protein and everything in the mornings. And, I’m doing my health and wellness tour. When I get settled, it will be the right time. But, God you’ve just got to give me some more hours in the day (chuckles). As much as I love, absolutely love music, there were some things that I had to prioritize so that the business side of Yolanda would flourish for a long time.
HOPE: Is there anything you else you would like to share with our readers?
Adams: All I want to do is tell everyone, thank you so much for loving me the way that you do. A lot of people are having hard times right now and that’s not my testimony. My life is very full. I just believe that sooner or later, I’m going to get a chance to hug all of [my fans]. But, I just want to thank them for all the years of support. The body of Christ is phenomenal.
Monique Farmer is a freelance writer and communications specialist. She lives in Omaha, Neb., with her husband and three children.