Gospel Queen Yolanda Adams on Facing Off Against a Stripper in ‘Kingdom Business’

If you grew up in a black Christian family in the 90s and 2000s — or simply a household that played gospel records — you know Yolanda Adams was one of the most influential vocalists in the world. best of this genre.

Considered by many to be the Queen of Contemporary Gospel, the 61-year-old Houston native has maintained the smooth soprano title throughout her illustrious career, beginning as a member of the Choir. inspired Southeast at the age of 13, released 13 compilation and live albums, and continued to be a performer for televised tributes and other major events, including Super Bowl LIV where she sings “America the Beautiful.” Her pen is still sharp, as she recently received a Tony Award nomination for — of all works —SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical.

Although the Grammy winner hasn’t released an album in eleven years, she’s still a mainstay on gospel radio and R&B (and mostly black gatherings) with hits. such as “Victory”, “The Battle Is the Lord”, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-produced Melodies “Open My Heart” and “Be Bless”, among others. Adams told The Daily Beast that she is working on music with the legendary R&B duo, which she plans to release soon.

Until then, Adams fans can catch her on BET+ starring in the new TV series. Business Kingdom. In this series, run by gospel legends Kirk Franklin and Holly Carter, Adams plays Denita Jordan, a competitive gospel diva obsessed with awards and creating hits at any cost. Her status as a best-selling artist is threatened when a stripper named Rebl, do Empire actress (and notable Music Video “Bad Blood” guest) Serayah, burst onto the gospel stage after a video of her singing at her best friend’s funeral went viral. The cross-generational drama reveals a dark side to the gospel music industry rife with sex scandals, crime and stiff competition, which Adams later says she has never experienced. myself but have heard of younger artists.

Adams spoke to The Daily Beast via Zoom about how it feels to express Denita, her upcoming album, and how she reconciles the industrial side of the gospel with her ministry.

How did this role come to you?

Dr. Holly Carter and I have known each other for many years. And she knows my background. And she said, “We have to put you on television.” I was like, “I know, I know.” And there was a time when she said, “Wow, I have this reality show.” And I said, “I don’t want everyone in my business. But if we get a good series or something like that, give me a call.” And so it took about three and a half years, and we finally found something that really, really fits what I want to do. I wanted a character that wasn’t too similar to me because I wanted to stretch myself and expand my acting, so to speak.

How fun was it to be playing the role of Denita? Because I don’t necessarily reduce her to a villain. But she definitely has some villainous qualities.

It’s definitely fun to get your hands on that because people see me on television, and I’ve always been a nice girl or a preacher or this or that. I want to be that diva [laughs] that I am not direct at all. Because I think what happens is, if you keep playing yourself or playing a character like you, you’re going to go into a comfort zone. I want to not feel so comfortable with this role that I will have to be diligent and focused to make sure that everything I say and every gesture I make flows with the character. Right. I love it.

Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, are you a bit nervous about starring in a project that is world wide and aimed at a mature audience?

Here’s the thing, you know? We can’t make a cookie cutter like this a reality because life is life. And you will have to deal with people who don’t act like you, like you, do what you do. And you know, Denita is having a real problem with that. YES. But you know, as you get older, you realize times change. And everything changes. And if God can use you, we can use anyone. I think people will be really, really surprised, but I think they’ll breathe a sigh of relief because it’s a show that really shows real relationships and real entanglements and stuff like that. how it works.

I think people will be really, really surprised, but I think they’ll breathe a sigh of relief because it’s a show that really shows real relationships and real entanglements and stuff like that. how it works.

The show also exposes the dark, competitive side of the gospel music industry, which has obviously been dramatized to some extent. But I was wondering if that competitiveness and cattiness is something you have experienced in your career?

Well, let me say this first. As you say so eloquently, this is a scripted movie. And so I haven’t been through anything like this in my career, because when I was growing up, Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, Lynette Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins — they all hugged me. So I’m not like, “Oh my god, they don’t like me.” I was loved by them and still loved by them. And we all show it on the outside.

But I know some people who have had experiences that are the exact opposite of what I’ve had. First, I started in the gospel when I was 13 years old. And so when I was 16, I succeeded. And when I was 18, I had a Billboard hit. So you know, they know me. And then for young artists to come and not be received, I think that’s crazy because I haven’t been through that.

Like Denita, you’re also a recipient of numerous awards and honors — most recently at the Soul Train Awards. Where do you hold those praises spiritually? Because, as a gospel singer, I consider music a religious practice and act of ministry to you, first and foremost.

That is a good question. The first thing is, you never go into gospel music for money or awards because if you want money and prizes, you go into R&B, where there are awards. And there are Stellar prizes. And the Dove Awards are specifically for gospel artists in recognition of what they’ve contributed over the past year and a half. So, you know, I think that should be applauded because we weren’t represented in some of the other awards. I won the first American Music Award for gospel music. And so if I’m the first then that means Tramaine and people like Caesar are definitely not even thought of in those spaces. So, you know, I know we’re not doing it for the prize. But it’s great to have them. And they are hidden. They weren’t in front of my house or anything. They’re hidden so I know they’re there. And you know, people ask when they’re passing. I have to go into my office, get it out. But even the Word says that even a worker is worthy to be hired by Him. So it’s not like what we do.


Yolanda Adams and Serayah in Business Kingdom

Trey Mangum / BET +

I love seeing Kirk Franklin as the film’s executive producer because you’re both considered giants of gospel music. And you’ve had some great collaborations before. How does your decision to do the show relate to his participation?

As I said before, Holly Davis Carter is really why I do this; but of course, you add Kirk and that’s a bonus. He’s like my little brother, you know? And I enjoyed working with him musically wise, because he was always thinking. And in order to work with him as an actor, I had to step away from my sly sister to really compete with him. So I had to do some real outreach. But yeah, he’s great.

So does this role give you acting errors now? Do you consider this role a new era for your career?

No, this is just part of who I am. You know, we were in the studio for a while working on a new project. And, of course, you know, COVID happened. And we are trying to make sure that we provide the best product. And then this fell on our laps. And so I said, “Well, hey, let’s do it all.” YES. But I think it’s just an added bonus to what I’ve done.

I was about to ask when we could order another album from you. I didn’t realize it was a decade old.

The only thing 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 some great work. There is a song we call “Song of Hope” that we hope will make the world a better place. And that’s all I can say about it. But yes, we are really excited.

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