Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
It seems that there is nothing that can keep Yolanda Adams from reaching her destiny as she continues to blaze a trail of mountaintop experiences for herself and for the gospel industry. With her new release Mountain High…Valley Low on a new label, she is certain to continue on her path.
Adams says of the new release, “The whole project is slammin’! I’ve been excited about this project for a long time, because it is one that [I finally have] a chance to do that I’ve always had a heart to do. It’s like, ‘This is me! This is me!’ Not that the other projects weren’t Yolanda, but I’ve changed spiritually. I’m stronger in my faith. My relationship with God is deeper. And I understand why it is so important to get the message out to everybody. Not just for a few people who are already in the church walls, but for everybody hanging out of the church.”
In a much talked about move to previously all-secular Elektra, Adams quashes all rumors that she has gone secular. “It’s sad that the conversation around tables is that [I’ve left the fold]. Do [they] really think that anything could change my love for God? [This project] going to shock them.”
And shock them it will. With a corps of producers, secular and gospel, that includes the likes of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Richard Smallwood, Buster and Shavoni, Fred Hammond, Warryn Campbell, just to name a few, Mountain High...Valley Low is astounding.
Of the critics who are undoubtedly going to have a problem with her working with secular producers and artists, she is blunt: “If you check it out, those folk are modern day Pharisees. [Of the saved music professionals that are not exclusively Gospel, they say,] ‘They don’t look like us. They don’t dress like us. They don’t sound like us. So they must not be us.’” She scoffs at this.
“Kelly Price is saved to the bone! "Count it all Joy", talks about an issue that people deal with on a daily basis. What people don’t understand is that all of this falls under the line of ministry. Somebody that is listening to a Kelly Price song will start thinking about that and then all of a sudden the Holy Spirit will let the line “Pastor says to stay in prayer” minister to them. I told [Price] to stay right where she is. Where God has her, she can touch so many more people’s lives than a lot of these folks selling 2,000 records in the gospel industry. But because it’s gospel they’re thinking it’s better than what she’s doing, and they ain’t living a dime’s worth of nothing.”
Visionary and Elektra label chief Sylvia Rhone has brought Adams out of the realm of Gospel labels and given her the opportunity to share with more. “Elektra is treating me like they would any of their other artists. It was nothing but the blessing of God. I knew that where God wanted to take me, it was going to take someone who believed in me and my ministry. Sylvia Rhone has to be one of the most amazing women in the world as far as her marketing strategies and her knowledge of the music industry. She knows what’s going on, and she knows what she wants. She came to the last leg of the Tour of Life. She told me ‘You don’t have to change a thing. I love exactly what you’re doing.’ Those were the magic words. Because I told God that I’m not trying to be Whitney. I’m not trying to be Mariah. I’m too old to be Brandy! I need to be me, but I need to broaden my music base so that everyone can hear Your word.”
She is careful to keep Him at the core of whatever it is she is doing, “[Whatever your area of ministry] You always have to be aware that you are helping somebody make it through. I have to make sure I understand that this is not about me. This is about souls.”
Gathering from her own experiences both personal and professional, Adams believes that even our mistakes are not by happenstance. “Everything that we go through happens to us for a reason. You know God turns all the stuff that we have messed up with into little gems that we can live our lives by; for the rest of our lives, as a matter of fact. And I also believe that what God does with us is He says, ‘Yeah, you messed up, but let me fix this and let me turn it for your good.’ When we come to Him with ‘You know God, I messed up’, I believe He can use us and the incidences, trials and tribulations a whole lot more than when we come to Him with [the wrong attitude]”
Offering encouragement to someone who is in the middle of a broken marriage, or an abusive situation or even career turmoil, she says,” God did not create you to be a person to take abuse on and on. He doesn’t have us live like that. Ask God, ‘Did I put myself in this situation? Did I make the decision to be a part of this relationship or is this something that You have for me?’ and nine times out of ten our pride has put us in those situations. I know with my first marriage, my pride kept me in that situation. [I thought} what will people say if my marriage doesn’t work? What will they say if these things don’t work out in my life? What are people going to say about me? “ Agreeing that oftentimes we put this on God she adds, “And the sad part about it is that it’s not even God. He is not requiring us to do anything but glorify Him, be a witness for Him, and do His will. That’s what God is requiring of us. We make it into I have to do and be this kind of person. Look, God is not requiring you to take on the whole world on a cross. That’s been done!”
Being clear on your calling is key. “If you are so busy trying to do everything for God, you are out of your place. Because [then] you’re doing somebody else’s job. And He never required us to do somebody else’s job in order to get His stuff done because He’s [too] big! He’s huge. He don’t need your help - for real - to run the world! All He asks you to do is to be in place so you can serve and receive!”
With a surety that permits her the freedom to not worry about what people are going to say or think, she forges ahead. “By the time you wade through [people that don’t mean you any good] to get to the real people, you are exhausted! That’s why at this point in my life, it’s: ‘Okay God. You got it!’”
“I definitely know I had to go through all the things I have gone through in order to appreciate what God is doing. He doesn’t have to use us! It’s just a blessing!” So to the skeptics and the naysayers, all will have to recognize that there is not even a valley low enough to keep Yolanda from representing Christ through her music ministry. You can almost hear her sing the words of the Motown classic, “Nothing can keep me, keep me from You!”
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