Gospel Queen Yolanda Adams on a falling out with a stripper in “Kingdom Business”

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If you grew up in a black Christian household — or just one that played gospel records — in the ’90s and 2000s, you know that Yolanda Adams is one of the genre’s most prolific and influential voices.

Widely considered the queen of contemporary gospel, the 61-year-old Houston native has maintained her silky soprano register throughout her illustrious career, starting as a member of the Southeast Inspirational Choir at age 13. alone, and releasing 13 studio and live albums. and remained a popular performer for TV tributes and other major events, including Super Bowl LIV, where she sang “America the Beautiful.” Her pen is as sharp as ever, as she recently received a Tony Award nomination for – of all things –Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical.

Although the Grammy winner hasn’t released an album in 11 years, she’s been a mainstay on gospel and R&B radio (and most Black Gatherings). Terry Lewis produced the tracks “Open My Heart” and “Be Blessed”, among others. Adams tells The Daily Beast that she’s been working with the legendary R&B duo on music she plans to release soon.

Until then, Adams fans can catch her starring in the new drama on BET+ kingdom affairs. In the series, which is produced by gospel legends Kirk Franklin and Holly Carter, Adams stars as Denita Jordan, a competitive gospel diva obsessed with awards and churning out hits at all costs. His status as a high-earning artist is threatened when a stripper named Rebl auditions Rich Actress (and notable appearance in the “Bad Blood” music video) Serayah is exploding onto the gospel scene after a video of her singing at her best friend’s funeral goes viral. The multi-generational drama reveals a dark underbelly of the gospel music industry riddled with sex scandals, crime and cutthroat competition that Adams says she hasn’t personally experienced but has heard of from young artists .

Adams spoke to The Daily Beast via Zoom about what it was like to cast Denita, her upcoming album, and how she balances the industrial side of gospel with her ministry.

How did this role come to you?

Well, Dr. Holly Carter and I have known each other for years. And she knows my background. And she’s like, “We have to put you on TV.” I’m like, “I know, I know.” And there were times when she was like, “Well, I have this reality show.” And I’m like, “I don’t want everyone in my business. But if we get a good show or something, call me. And so it took us about three and a half years to finally find the thing that was really, really what I wanted to do. I wanted a character that didn’t look so much like me because I wanted to stretch myself and kind of expand my acting possibilities.

Was it fun stepping into the role of Denita? Because I wouldn’t necessarily reduce her to a villain. But she certainly has antagonistic qualities.

It was really fun to dive in because people watch me on TV and I’m always the nice girl or the preacher or this or that. I wanted to be that diva [rit] that I’m not personal at all. Because I think what happened when you keep playing yourself or playing a character like you, you get into a comfort zone. I wanted to feel so uncomfortable in this role that I had to be diligent and focused to make sure everything I said and every move I made flowed with the character. Then yes. I liked it.

Speaking of stepping out of your comfort zone, were you a little nervous about starring in a project on a secular network aimed at mature audiences?

Here’s the thing, you know? We can’t let this cookie cutter stuff happen because life is life. And you have to deal with people who don’t act like you, who don’t look like you, who do what you do. And you know, Denita has a real problem with that. Yes. But you know, as you get older, you realize that times are changing. And things are changing. And if God can use you, we can use anybody. I think people are going to be really, really surprised, but I think they’ll breathe a sigh of relief that this is a show that actually shows how real relationships work and real implications and things like that .

“I think people are going to be really, really surprised, but I think they’ll breathe a sigh of relief that this is a show that actually shows how real relationships work and real implications and things like that.”

The show also reveals a dark and competitive side of the gospel music industry which is obviously dramatized to some extent. But I was wondering if that kind of competitiveness and sassiness was something you had experienced in your career?

Well, let me say that first. As you so eloquently put it, this is a scripted drama. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my career because growing up, Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, Lynette Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins all hugged me. So I didn’t have that kind of, “Oh my god, they don’t like me.” I was loved by them and I am still loved by them. And we all express that to the outside world.

But I know people who have had an experience completely opposite to mine. First, I started in the gospel world when I was 13 years old. And when I’m 16, I’ll have a hit. And then when I’m 18, I’ll be successful on Billboard. So you know me. And then younger artists coming in and can’t hug, I just thought that was so crazy because I hadn’t experienced that.

Like Denita, you are also someone who has been showered with awards and honors – most recently at the Soul Train Awards. Where do you think those prices are mentally? Because as a gospel singer, I guess for you, music is first and foremost a religious practice and ministry.

It’s a good question. The first thing is you never do gospel music for the money or the awards, because if you wanted the money and the awards, you would go into R&B, where the awards are. And there are the Stellar Awards. And the Dove Awards are specifically for gospel artists to recognize what they’ve achieved over the past year and a half. You know, I think that should be applauded because we weren’t at some of those other awards. I won the first American Music Award for gospel music. And so if I was the first, that certainly means Tramaine and people like Caesar weren’t even thought of in those plays. You know, I know we don’t do it for the rewards. But it’s good to have them. And they are hidden. They’re not in front of my house or anything. They are hidden so I know they are there. And you know, people ask when they come. I have to go to my office, take it out. But even the Word says even a laborer is worthy of his wages. So it’s not contrary to what we’re doing.

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Yolanda Adams and Serayah in kingdom affairs

Trey Mangum/BET+

I loved seeing that Kirk Franklin was an executive producer on the show because you two are considered to be these titans of gospel music. And you had some amazing collaborations. How much of your decision to do the show has to do with his involvement?

Well, like I said, Holly Davis Carter is really the reason I’m doing this; But of course you add Kirk and that’s a bonus. He’s like my little brother, you know? And I love working with him musically because he’s always thinking. And to work with him as an actor, I had to step away from the beloved sister to actually, you know, argue with him. So I really had to achieve something. But yeah he’s cool.

Did this role give you the acting bug now? Do you see this role as a new era for your career?

No, it’s just a part of me. You know we’ve been in the studio for a while working on a new project. And of course, COVID has arrived. And we try to make sure that we deliver the best product. And it hit us. And so I’m like, “Well, hey, let’s do all of this.” Yes. But I think it’s just an added bonus to what I’m already doing.

I wanted to ask you when we can ask you for another album. I didn’t know it was a decade.

Well, all I can tell you is that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and I have been in the studio for a few months.

Yay! I was hoping you would work with them again.

Yes I know. We have amazing work. There’s the song we call “The Hope Song” that we hope will make the world a better place. And that’s all I can say about it. But yeah, we’re really excited.

Gospel Queen Yolanda Adams on falling out with a stripper on ‘Kingdom Business’

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Gospel Queen Yolanda Adams on a falling out with a stripper in “Kingdom Business”


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