Yolanda Yvette Adams (born August 27, 1961) is an American gospel singer, record producer, actress, and host of her own nationally syndicated morning gospel show. She has sold nearly 10 million albums worldwide, with some albums achieving multi-platinum status.
She is one of gospel music's most-awarded artists having won 5 Grammy Awards, 4 Dove Awards, 5 BET Awards, 6 NAACP Image Awards, 6 Soul Train Music Awards, 2 BMI Awards and 16 Stellar Awards also being the first artist inducted into the Stellar Awards Hall of Fame. She was awarded the first American Music Award given to a contemporary gospel artist.She is known as the "Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music" and the "First Lady of Modern Gospel". Variety dubbed Adams as the "Reigning Queen of Urban Gospel".On December 11, 2009, Billboard named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade. with her album Mountain High...Valley Low acknowledged as the best gospel album.
President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for her volunteer service.
She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association in 2017.
In 2018, she became the first gospel artist nominated for a Tony Award for her work on SpongeBob SquarePants.
In 2019, she became the first gospel singer and the fifth artist to receive the Soul Train Music Awards Lady of Soul Award,
and won critical acclaim for officially opening Super Bowl LIV with her performance of "America the Beautiful".
The eldest of six siblings, Adams was born in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Sterling High School in Houston in 1979. After graduating from Texas Southern University, she began a career as a schoolteacher and part-time model in Houston. Eventually, she gave up teaching to perform full-time as a lead singer.
Adams first attracted the attention of Thomas Whitfield and Sound of Gospel Records as a lead singer with Houston's Southeast Inspirational Choir affiliated with the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Carl Preacher, Brenda Waters, and Shirley Joiner. The choir released the single "For My Liberty" in 1982 with her as the featured vocalist. In 1986, Adams was featured on the Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar Choir released Give Us Peace, with a performance entitled "My Trust Lies in You". Later, she signed a recording contract with Sound of Gospel which yielded her first album Just As I Am in 1987. In 1990, she was discovered by producer/keyboardist Ben Tankard, and signed to his independent label Tribute Records and released Through The Storm. Tankard's goal with Tribute Records during this time was to develop an audience for a smoother gospel/jazz sound. He featured Adams' vocals on his album and concept video single "You Bring Out The Best in Me" on his 1994 release Play Me in Your Key. The collaboration received positive response from gospel, jazz and "quiet storm" formats.
One year later, Adams followed with Save the World, which included her first signature song "The Battle Is The Lord's". Her next release was 1995's More Than a Melody, which featured more production work from Tankard with contributions from O'Landa Draper, and BeBe Winans. The single "Gotta Have Love," from that album featuring Tony Terry on background vocals, gained mainstream notoriety and was her first single and music video. Yolanda... Live in Washington, released the following year, featured versions of material from her first three albums. The footage from this recording was released as a collection of two videos on VHS initially, and later as a single set on DVD and CD. During this time Tribute Records' parent company Diadem Music Group merged with Benson Music Group, which was eventually bought by New York-based Zomba/Verity Records.
Songs from the Heart was her final release for Verity Records, including "Only Believe", which was a popular song on contemporary radio. The album also included "Still I Rise," a dedication to Rosa Parks, which was inspired by the Maya Angelou poem of the same name.
Adams' first significant attention outside the urban contemporary gospel arena came with the release of Mountain High... Valley Low in 1999 on Elektra Records. Several mainstream artists and producers helped in the production of this album including Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men), James "Big Jim" Wright (Mariah Carey, Nicole C. Mullen), Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary, Brandy), and Keith Thomas (BeBe & CeCe Winans). The album went 2x Platinum in 2000 and won Adams a Grammy Award. Notable singles from the album include "Yeah", "Fragile Heart", and "Open My Heart".
"Fragile Heart" was dedicated to the memory of Adams' long-time road manager, who died in 1998.In 2000, Adams released a Christmas album, and in 2001 she released a live album (The Experience). The Experience netted Adams a second Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. Believe, which included the hit "Never Give Up" was released in 2001 and reached gold status according to the RIAA. She would later go on to perform this song at "The Salute to Gospel Music" at the White House during President George W. Bush's administration. In 2001, Adams also released a compilation CD entitled The Divas of Gospel; it included the legendary Grammy Award winner Albertina Walker, who was popularly referred to as the "Queen of Gospel Music" until her death in 2010.
Adams recorded a song for the 2003 film Honey entitled "I Believe", which played during the last scene in the final dance.
Adams was also a judge for the 2nd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers. She is also credited as the Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music.
Day By Day
After nearly four years without releasing an album, Adams returned in 2005 with Day By Day. Although charting higher than Mountain High...Valley Low on the Billboard 100 and Billboard R&B Albums chart, it did not receive RIAA certification. The album featured the singles "Be Blessed," "Someone Watching Over You," "This Too Shall Pass", and "Victory" (which was prominently featured in the movie The Gospel).
After ending her long association with Atlantic Records, Atlantic released a greatest hits collection entitled The Best of Me in May 2007.
Adams signed with Columbia Records in 2007. Columbia released What a Wonderful Time, her second holiday collection, in October 2007. "Hold On" was released as the lead single.
Morning radio show and book release
After the release of What a Wonderful Time, Adams embarked on the radio career with The Yolanda Adams Morning Show which was aired in over 26 radio markets within two years. Her radio show featured Marcus D. Wiley as Bishop Secular. The syndicated show aired for ten years before ending in 2016. It relaunched in September 2019 from Texas Southern University's KTSU-FM 90.9.On December 25, 2009, Adams performed on BET's The Mo'Nique Show, where she sang "Already Alright", from her 1999 Mountain High...Valley Low album. Mo'Nique stated that the song is one of her favorites.In 2010, Adams released her book "Points of Power", based on one of the segments of her radio show Points of Power.Adams appeared on the 2011 BET Honors to sing her signature song "The Battle Is the Lord's" in honor of Cicely Tyson. Later, Adams appeared at the 53rd Grammy Awards, taking part in a tribute to Aretha Franklin along with Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, and Martina McBride. Adams performed "Spirit in the Dark" – Franklin's classic from 1970. On several occasions, Franklin stated that she "especially loved" Adams' performance. On May 29, 2011, Adams sang at the prestigious National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, DC, to honor the U.S. soldiers.
Adams' eleventh studio album, Becoming, was released on May 3, 2011 produced by Steve Bracey. The new single, "Be Still", by Drathoven, debuted on Tuesday, April 19 on The Yolanda Adams Morning Show. Becoming was released by Walmart as an exclusive deal. At The BET Awards 2012, Adams' won the award for Best Gospel Artist for the 4th time in her career having won the most since the first BET Awards in 2001.
Twelfth studio album: 2013–
On an April 2013 episode of BET's Lift Every Voice, Adams announced that she was working on her twelfth studio album. The album title and release date has yet to be announced, but she announced songwriting and producing credits from the likes of super gospel producers Donald Lawrence, Israel Houghton & Kirk Franklin. She also mentioned a song and studio session with Grammy, Billboard & ASCAP award-winning global hit songwriter Diane Warren (Whitney Houston, Patti Labelle, Tina Turner, Elton John).
Adams released her first book Points of Power in 2010. It is a Christian book in reference to living a pure, spirit-filled Christian life.
Adams was married to Troy Mason from 1987 until 1990. Adams said spousal abuse was the reason for their divorce. In 1997, Adams married former NFL player Tim Crawford. The couple divorced in August 2004 after seven years. Adams and Crawford have one daughter, Taylor Adams Crawford, born in 2001.Adams served as a spokesperson for the FILA Corporation's Operation Rebound, a program that addressed the concern of inner-city schoolchildren.Adams was inducted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as an honorary member on July 8, 2018.
1987: Just as I Am
1991: Through the Storm
1993: Save the World
1995: More Than a Melody
1996: Yolanda... Live in Washington
1998: Songs from the Heart
1999: Mountain High... Valley Low
2000: Christmas with Yolanda Adams
2001: The Experience
2005: Day by Day
2007: What a Wonderful Time
In total, Adams has won five Grammy Awards, sixteen Stellar Gospel Music Awards, four of the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards, one American Music Award, seven NAACP Image Awards, one Soul Train Music Award, and five BET Awards.
Yolanda Adams at AllMusic
Yolanda Adams on IMDb