“There is no way that I can make it the way I make it without God. He has to be the first voice I talk to in the morning and the last voice I hear at night.” Yolanda Adams
Grammy Award winning American Gospel music singer Yolanda Adams scored mainstream breakthrough with the 1999 album “Mountain High... Valley Low,” which brought Adams her first Grammy Award and went double platinum in the United States. It spawned the award winning single “Open My Heart.” She won her next Grammy Award for the 2001 live album “The Experience.” After the gold record “Believe” (2001), Adams did not launch another studio album until 2005's “Day By Day,” which hit No. 23 on the Billboard 200, her highest charting position to date. The album contains the Grammy Award winning singles “Be Blessed” and “Victory.” Recently, on May 3, 2011, Adams released a new album titled “Becoming.” Adding to her Grammys, the former elementary school teacher has won four of the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards, one American Music Award, seven NAACP Image Awards, one Soul Train Music Award and three BET Awards.
Apart from music, Adams is known as the host of the popular radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show,” which currently airs on Urban Gospel stations owned by Radio One. Sin 2010, she released her first book, “Points of Power,” which is based on one of the segments of her radio show of the same title.
Adams has one daughter with her former husband, Timothy Crawford, whom she married for eight years from 1997 to 2005. She was the spokesperson for the FILA Corporation's Operation Rebound, a program that addressed the concern of inner city schoolchildren.
Childhood and Family:
The oldest of six children, Yolanda Yvette Adams, who would later be popular as Yolanda Adams, was born on August 27, 1961, in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Sterling High School in 1979 and went on to attend Texas Southern University. After college, she became an elementary school teacher and had a part time job as a model in Houston. She later quit teaching to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.
In 1997, Yolanda married former NFL player Timothy Crawford Jr., but the couple later divorced in 2005. The marriage produced one child, daughter Taylor Ayanna Crawford. Commenting on having a daughter in her life during Christmas, she said, “Giving was the whole purpose for Christ's coming to Earth. But knowing that there's this little face that will wake up every Christmas morning, smile and say, 'Oh, Mommy I love you so much' because of my giving to her now is just too precious.'”
Mountain High... Valley Low
Yolanda Adams began her music career as a lead singer for Houston's Southeast Inspirational Choir related with the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Carl Preacher, Brenda Waters, and Shirley Joiner. In 1982, the choir launched the single “For My Liberty” with Adams being the featured vocalist. It was during her tenure with the choir that she first caught the eye of Thomas Whitfield and Sound of Gospel Records. In 1986, she appeared on the Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar Choir release “Give Us Peace,” with a performance titled “My Trust Lies In You.”
Adams was eventually signed to Sound of Gospel, and her debut album, “Just as I Am,” was released in 1987. Produced by Thomas Whitfield, the album reached No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Top Gospel Albums.
In 1990, Adams attracted the attention of producer/keyboardist Ben Tankard, who then signed her to his independent label Tribute Records. Her second studio album, “Through The Storm,” followed on December 26, 1991, with Tankard as producer. Like its predecessor, the album also peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums. The album won a 1992 Dove for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year, while the title track picking up the Traditional Gospel Song of the Year category. The third studio album “Save the World” (1993), which was also produced by Tankard, reached No. 6 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums. It featured her first signature song “The Battle Is The Lord's.” In 1994, Tankard featured Adam's jazzy vocals on his album and concept video single “You Bring Out The Best In Me” on his release “Play Me in Your Key.” The collaboration garnered favorable reviews from gospel, jazz and “quiet storm” formats.
Adams returned with a new studio album, “More Than a Melody,” in October 1995. The album, which featured musical collaborations with the late O'Landa Draper on “The Good Shepherd” and BeBe Winans on “What About The Children,” reached No. 4 on both the Billboard Top Gospel Albums and the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian. The single “Gotta Have Love” (1995), featuring Tony Terry on background vocals, received mainstream notoriety and became her first single and music video. The song peaked at No. 97 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Initially released on Tribute Records, “More Than a Melody” was later re-issued under the Verity after Tribute's acquisition in 1996.
On June 1, 1996, Adams released a first live album called “Yolanda...Live in Washington” through Verity Records. The albums featured materials from her first three albums, and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums and No. 25 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian. The live version of “The Battle Is the Lord's” charted at No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 101 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song helped Adams received her first Grammy nomination for “Yolanda...Live in Washington.”
Her last release for Venity Records, “Songs from the Heart” was released on September 15, 1998. The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 9 on the Billboard Top Contemporary and No. 15 on the Billboard Heatseekers. It featured the contemporary radio hit song “Only Believe” and “Still I Rise,” a song dedicated to Rosa Park which was inspired by the Maya Angelou poem of the same name. Another song, “Is Your All on the Altar,” won a 1999 Dove for Traditional Gospel Song of the Year.
Adams, however, did not experience mainstream breakthrough until the release of “Mountain High... Valley Low” through Elektra Records on September 21, 1999. The album reached the top spot on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian and the Billboard Heatseekers, and was a Top 10 hit on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (#5). It also cracked the Billboard 200 at No. 24. The first single “Open My Heart,” which Adams wrote with Terry Lewis, James Harris, and James “Big Jim” Wright), peaked at No. 10 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and No. 57 on the Hot U.S. 100 chart and won a 2001 Soul Train Music for Best R&B Soul Single, Female as well as a 2001 NAACP Image for Outstanding Song. The song helped the album receive double platinum status in the US, becoming the artist's bestselling record to date. The follow up singles “Yeah,” written by Tina Campbell and Erica Campbell, and “Fragile Heart,” written by Adams, Louis Brown and Scott Parker, peaked at No. 13 and No. 25 on the Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles, respectively. “Mountain High... Valley Low” won a 1999 Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. A compilation album titled “The Best of Yolanda Adams” followed on October 26, 1999. It reached No. 23 on the Top Contemporary Christian chart and went gold in the United States.
Adam's second release for Elektra, a Christmas album called “Christmas with Yolanda Adams,” hit the music stores on October 24, 2000. The album topped the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart and charted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian. It also made it to the Top 40 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (#31) and peaked at No. 86 on the Billboard 200. A second live album, “The Experience,” was released on March 20, 2001. It was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Top Contemporary Christian, a No.2 hit on the Top Gospel Albums, a No. 24 hit on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and a No. 63 hit on the Billboard 200. The album earned Adams her second Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. The eighth studio album “Believe” followed on December 4, 2001. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 2 on the Top Contemporary Christian, No. 7 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 42 on the Billboard 200 and went on to received gold certification from the RIAA. The first single “Never Give Up” peaked at No. 79 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, while the next single “I'm Gonna Be Ready” peaked at No. 74 on the same chart. 2001 also saw the release of the compilation album “Yolanda Adams and Albertina Walker “The Divas of Gospel””. The same year, Adams also became presenter on “2001 Lady of Soul Awards” and was handed a NAACP Image for Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special for her effort.
In 2002, Adams recorded the song “If We Could Remember” for the soundtrack to the action /political thriller film “The Sum of All Fears,” directed by Phil Alden Robinson starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman. The same year, she also appeared on Karen Clark Sheard's album “2nd Chance” on the songs “Higher Ground” and “Brand New Day.” In the following year, she performed “The Prayer,” a cover of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli song, along with Donnie McClurkin, and it included in his album, “Again.” In addition, she recorded the song “I Believe” for the 2003 film “Honey,” starring Jessica Alba. In 2004, she was featured on saxophonist Kenny G.'s second cover album, “At Last...The Duets Album” singing “I Believe I Can Fly.”
After almost four years without releasing an album, Adams returned with “Day By Day” on May 3, 2005. Released on Atlantic Records, the album reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 23 on the Billboard Billboard 200. It was nominated for a Dove Award for Urban of the Year at the 37th GMA Dove Awards. The lead single “Be Blessed” topped the Gospel Billboard chart, making it one of the most successful Gospel songs of 2005, and won a 2005 Grammy for Best Gospel Song. The song also received a Dove nomination for Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year. The next single “Victory” was an immediate hit, peaked at No. 3 on the Gospel Billboard chart and won a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance. The song was featured on the Rob Hardy 2005 film “The Gospel.” The album also spawned the singles “Someone Watching Over You” and “This Too Shall Pass,” which reached No. 59 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 15 on the Billboard Gospel, respectively, with the latter also being nominated for a 2007 Dove in the category of Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year.
After ending her partnership with Atlantic Records, Atlantic released a greatest hits collection, “The Best of Me,” on May 8, 2007. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 60 on the Billboard Billboard 200. Later that same year, on October 17, 2007, she launched second holiday album, “What a Wonderful Time,” on Columbia Records. The album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 28 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 179 on the Billboard Billboard 200. the single “Hold On” was very successful on Urban contemporary and Gospel radio, peaking at Np.26 on the Hot Adult R&B Airplay chart, No. on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, and No. 15 on the Hot Gospel Songs chart. 2007 also found Adams recording “Step Aside” for the soundtrack to Tyler Perry's drama film, “Daddy's Little Girls.”The song reached No. 10 on the Billboard Gospel
On September 2, 2008, Sony Legacy released a greatest hits album titled “Playlist: The Very Best of Yolanda Adams.” It peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums.
Adams's new studio album, “Becoming,” was released on May 3, 2011 via N House Music Group. It marks her first album in four years. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No. 18 on the Billboard Independent Albums, No. 22 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 99 on the Billboard Billboard 200 . The lead single “Be Still” charted at No. 9 on the Billboard Gospel Song.
NAACP Image: Outstanding Gospel Artist, 2006
Grammy: Best Gospel Performance, “Victory,” from “Day By Day & The Gospel Soundtrack,” 2006
Grammy: Best Gospel Song, “Be Blessed,” from “Day By Day,” 2005
Dove: Special Event CD of the Year, “The Passion of the Christ” (song: “How Many Lashes”), 2005
BET: Best Gospel Artist, 2003
NAACP Image: Outstanding Gospel Artist, Contemporary, 2002
BET: Best Gospel Artist, 2002
NAACP Image : Outstanding Song, “Open My Heart,” 2001
NAACP Image :Outstanding Gospel Artist, Contemporary, 2001
NAACP Image :Outstanding Female Artist, 2001
NAACP Image: Outstanding Performance in a Variety Series/Special, “Soul Train: Lady of Soul Awards,” 2001
American Music: Contemporary/Inspirational Artist, 2001
BET: Best Gospel Artist, 2001
Grammy: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album, “The Experience,” 2001
Soul Train Music: Best R&B Soul Single, Female, “Open My Heart,” 2001
NAACP Image: Outstanding Gospel Artist, Contemporary, 2000
Grammy: Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album, Mountain High... Valley Low, 1999
Dove: Traditional Gospel Song of the Year, “Is Your All on the Altar,” 1999
Dove: Traditional Gospel Song of the Year, “Through The Storm,” 1992
Dove: Traditional Gospel Album of the Year, “Through The Storm,” 1992