It seems that Yolanda Adams has a special love for recording live projects in Washington DC. She did it in 1996 with Yolanda Live In Washington, and now she does it again with The Experience.Producers: Shep Crawford, Raymond Reeder
album release date: March 20, 2001
Captured one night at DC’s DAR Constitution Hall, Elektra gave mainstream audiences a chance to see live and in stereo the Yolanda Adams that Gospel audiences have known for some time now. The real vocals, the real poise, the real personality. Truly an experience, especially for those who have grown accustomed to discovering the weak reality of some of their favorite artists once they witness them live.
The burners start firing on the opening cut, as Adams interprets (and adds to) the inspirational hit “I Believe I Can Fly” with the help of Gerald Levert (download the flashcard for an audio snippet click on photo below).
The early revival of this R. Kelly smash puts Shep Crawford at the directoral helm with background vocals by Darrell Crawford and The Fulfillment Choir, and Renee Spearman and The Prosperity Choir (see the choir's album review).
From there, the night is turned over to revivals of Yolanda favorites from recent and from far. Raymond Reeder took charge of the choir component of Yolanda’s 1996 live project; he comes back here for this Experience encore, and is joined in musical direction responsibilities by another frequent Adams collaborator, bassist Anthony Harmon.
A conspicuous Dr. Bobby Jones intros “Already Alright”, and Yolanda takes it from there, opening up the exhuberance on the song with her trademarks riffs and quick patter vocal repetitions. Here and throughout the project, her crew of four backing vocalists keep things percolating.
Other favorites from Mountain High, Valley Low are included. “Open My Heart” makes its compulsory presence known, and Daryl L.A. Hunt beautifully sets up the Bebe Winans penned “What About The Children” with synth orchestration.
Just in case you missed Fred Hammond’s “Continual Praise”, Adams kicks it live, and you know this is the way it was meant to be heard. Charles Willis delivers a spectacular plugged acoustic guitar intro to “Fragile Heart”.
But Adams also digs for a chestnut, as she dips into her repertoire from her classic Save The World project, re-delivering Amiriss Parrimore’s “Oh Ye of Little Faith” with a funkkier setup, served complete with Spanish verse.
The project closes as it began, with another rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly”. This time it’s live with Yolanda alone with mass choir backup as Dr. Joyce Garrett directs the enthusiastic Eastern High School Choir of Washington, DC. If you thought the duet was hot, then you'll be scorched by this rendition.
Amidst the innovative riffs and runs, Adams does something vocally more valuable and sustaining she returns to the core melody of a given song. Though she clearly sings better than your average bear, she doesn’t forget us. Folks can sing her tunes and therefore come back again and again. Not that the draw isn’t more complex than that God clearly does the drawing. But a repeatable song goes a long way just ask Kirk Franklin.
reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North —
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