Congrats on your new CD! We understand that it has already garnered some big attention, tell us about that.
YAY! Thanks for the well wishes. I'm so happy how people are responding. Many folks that have bought the CD are emailing me with their comments on how good my vocals sound and how well produced the CD is, as well as how much the message means to them. I sell a lot of CD's at my live shows and church appearances, and have received delightful emails from people saying that they use my CD to start their day with joy... it is a meditation for them. THAT thrills me and I am so grateful.
I have received great comments from Film, Broadway, Rock, Country, and Christian musician friends whose opinions I regard highly, and have never remarked on my music until this record. These are national award winning pros. My favorite comment so far is from Bill Turner, a Grand Ole Orpy veteran who said,
"All 12 songs on this CD are "A" material...there is not a weak cut on this whole album."
I especially love the review from Transgender Forum by Pam DeGroff that says:
“I have to say that it's albums like Yolanda's Country Gospel Kirtan-Vol. 1: God Is that make it hard for me as a reviewer to maintain my objectivity. I really like this project. During my last interview with Yolanda, I had asked her if she had sort of re-invented herself for this project. Her answer was that instead of a re-invention, she was finally becoming who she really was all along. And what's unique about that statement is that you can hear it in her vocals. While Yolanda has a somewhat Southern growl/twang to her voice, it's smoother, less forced, and comfortable sounding than I've heard on the aforementioned earlier projects. There's a peace, even a sort of contentment, in her voice, that comes from knowing you're exactly where you need to be. Can't wait for Vol. 2.”
Tell us about your recording experience. Was it different from other projects?
Yes it was very different. All of the songs I recorded, were tunes I had been singing to myself for years, and I was singing them effortlessly. Some of the songs are familiar to my fans and some are not. The ones that are not familiar are spiritual songs that I wrote in 1994 when I was first exploring New Thought
teachings. At that time, I wasn't ready to come full circle back to my Gospel Music roots.
When I recorded this new CD, it was a healing experience for me, because now I feel that I have come full circle back to my teenage dreams of having a Music Ministry.
I recorded the CD with my dear friend/singer songwriter/producer/creator of Bearapalooza- Freddy Freeman at his new recording studio at his home at Easton Mountain LGBT Spiritual Retreat Center in Upstate NY. WHAT a GREAT experience! We laughed and prayed and cried and created together in an intense retreat setting for a week. I had previously recorded some of the songs on the CD with other producers (Robert Urban and Gerald Menke) and didn't have a CD home for them. They fit perfectly on Country Gospel Kirtan. The whole project was filled with LOVE and LIGHT as the first song on the CD describes!
How and when did you get started in your music career and at what point did you make the decision to bring in YOLANDA?
I began my music career at age 17 at my church, playing in a Contemporary Christian band called The Amplified New Testament, We wrote out own music and played at churches and Christian music festivals all over the South. I played with them for about four years then went off to college and formed a Bluegrass Gospel band called Stained Glass Bluegrass. That band was terrific and I loved it. The end of that band happened when I came out and was ostracized from the band and from church.
My life took a very different direction and I got involved in Theater, graduated college, moved to NYC to become a Broadway star and finally met The Radical Faeries in the mid-1990's. After meeting the Faeries, I moved to Vermont to live in the Faerie commune and that was where YOLANDA took front and center. I gave birth to Yolanda at a Gay Pride party right before I met the Faeries, but YOLANDA took over as I became influenced by the glorious outrageousness of The Radical Faeries. That's when I created my band Yolanda and The Plastic Family moved back to NYC and teamed up with the amazing Robert Urban.
During the years we played many live shows and recorded my CD House of Joy together. These were all beautiful experiences and I'm honored to have worked with so many terrific musicians in my life. In 2009, I decided to go to Interfaith Seminary and create my dream of having a Music Ministry that inspires all people regardless of faith path. That was where REV Yolanda was born.
Could you explain your "bridge" facebook posts? For some reason they make me laugh but I have no idea why.
LOL !! When Glen and I both had a regular 9-5 job,
we would get up every morning and go to work together.
Before we leave the house everyday we do a meditation together
to set our day in a positive direction. We would
get on the subway to go from Brooklyn (home) to Manhattan
(work). The Subway is underground except for 3 minutes
where it comes out of the ground and over the Manhattan
We started thinking it would be fun to see if we could do a picture
and an brief inspirational message in that span of 3 minutes and
post to Facebook. So we did it! We had a theme song for the video
message and everything- "We're On The Bridge-
With Bubbah and Bug- We're On The BRIDGE-With Bubbah and
Now -neither of us have a regular 9-5 job so we are not always on the bridge together at the same time...but when we are, we send a photo to remind everyone BRIDGE!!!! It has become a thing with us and our friends, and the word bridge has many meanings for us in our lives as we do our best to create Bridges of Peace between diverse communities.
Your Live Gospel Hour is very popular. Do you have bigger plans or dreams for that show?
YES! I am currently touring with the show and preparing for the creation of videos and a TV show. These are the next steps for The Gospel Hour.
My touring began in Dec 2012 and currently I have booked performances in NYC and out of town up through Sept 2013. I have a great desire to do the show in my home state of ALABAMA as well as many places in the south. If anyone reading this would like to contact me for booking the show in your area please contact me via my website www.yolanda.net or firstname.lastname@example.org ( I'll go anywhere .. just ask me).
My video and TV ideas are at the very early stages and I'm in the process of connecting with film, video, and TV producers who like my work.
Your music is very spiritually driven, being a Reverend that does make sense! Do you have to deal with any challenges regarding your sexuality and the Christian sectors of your audience?
It's a very interesting journey. I currently speak and sing at many churches on a regular basis. My husband is also a Reverend and we have worked out a weekend package for churches that include my Rev. Yolanda show on Friday night, a Miracles workshop on Saturday, and Glen delivering the message and me doing the music on Sunday mornings. We have had great success with this program and are open to any church that wants to book us.
The question churches always have is "Does Roger plan to appear in drag on Sunday Morning?" The sexuality issue is never a problem.. its usually the drag issue that's the problem. Mostly churches are not ok with that. So far only a few churches have been receptive to me appearing in drag on Sunday morning. Friday night is ok but not Sunday morning. I think this is funny, but I am usually not performing in MCC churches which are specifically LGBT oriented. I usually perform in traditional Christian or New Thought Churches such as Unity or Science of Mind which are very very liberal and sexuality is a non issue...but apparently drag is still an issue.
I am not daunted by this. I have begun working on a sermon called "You are GOD in drag" which talks about each one of us as expressions of the Divine. The DIVINE puts on our bodies as we put on clothing..therefore we are God (The DIVINE) in drag. I love this subject and will continue to explore it.
What would you like people to know about the new album?
I intend this CD as a meditation or a spiritual journey for the listener. My whole heart and soul is in this CD and my true hope is that is is inspirational.
How do you hope it makes them feel?
Uplifted, Joyful, Strong and Courageous!