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Yolanda Adams (born Yolanda Yvette Adams on August 27, 1961) is an American Grammy- and Dove-award winning Gospel music singer and radio show host. As of September 2009, she had sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, according to SoundScan.
On December 11, 2009 Billboard Magazine named her the 1st Gospel Artist of the last decade. In the same chart, her album "Mountain High...Valley Low" was acknowledged as the best gospel album.
The oldest of six siblings, Adams was raised in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Sterling High School in Houston in 1979. After graduating from Texas Southern University, she began a career as a schoolteacher and part-time model in Houston, Texas. Eventually she gave up teaching to perform full-time as a lead singer.
Adams first attracted the attention of Thomas Whitfield and Sound of Gospel Records as a lead singer with Houston's Southeast Inspirational Choir affiliated with the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Carl Preacher, Brenda Waters, and Shirley Joiner. The choir released the single in 1982 "For My Liberty" with Adams as the featured vocalist. In 1986, Adams was featured on the Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar Choir release "Give Us Peace", with a performance titled "My Trust Lies In You". Later, she signed a recording contract with Sound of Gospel which yielded her first album Just As I Am in 1987. In 1990, she signed to Ben Tankard's independent label Tribute Records and released Through The Storm. Two years later, Adams followed with Save the World, which included her first signature song "The Battle Is The Lord's". Her next release was 1995's More Than A Melody, which featured production work from Ben Tankard, O'Landa Draper, and BeBe Winans. The single "Gotta Have Love," from that album featuring Tony Terry on background vocals, gained mainstream notoriety and was her first single and music video. Yolanda... Live In Washington, released the following year, featured versions of material from her first two albums. The footage from this recording was released as a collection of two videos on VHS initially, and later as a single set on DVD.
Songs from the Heart was her final release for Verity Records and included "Only Believe" which was popular songs on contemporary radio. The album also included "Still I Rise," a dedication to Rosa Parks which was inspired by the Maya Angelou poem of the same name.
"Fragile Heart", was dedicated to the memory of Adams' long time road manager who died in 1998. Adams' first significant attention outside the urban contemporary gospel arena came with the release of Mountain High... Valley Low in 1999 on Elektra Records. Several mainstream artists and producers helped in the production of this album including Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men), James "Big Jim" Wright (Mariah Carey, Nicole C. Mullen), Warryn Campbell (Mary Mary, Brandy), and Keith Thomas (BeBe & CeCe Winans). The album went 2X Platinum in 2000 and won her a Grammy Award. Notable singles from the album include Yeah", "Fragile Heart", and "Open My Heart".
In 2000, Adams released a Christmas album, and in 2001 she released a live album (The Experience). The Experience netted Adams a second Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. Believe, which included the hit "Never Give Up" was released in 2001. She would later go on to perform this song at "The Salute to Gospel Music" at the White House during President George W. Bush's administration. In 2001, Adams also released a compilation CD entitled The Divas Of Gospel; it included the legendary Grammy Award Winner Albertina Walker, who is considered the "queen of gospel music."
Adams recorded a song for the 2003 film, Honey titled "I Believe" that played during the last scene in the final dance.
Adams was also a judge for the 2nd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
Back after break
After ending her long association with Atlantic Records, Atlantic released a greatest hits collection entitled The Best of Me in May 2007.
Adams signed with Columbia Records in 2007. Columbia released What a Wonderful Time, her second holiday collection, in October 2007. "Hold On" was released as the lead single.
Adams' song "Hold On," from her 2007 holiday album What a Wonderful Time, is included in a compilation in support of Barack Obama's campaign entitled Yes We Can: Voices of a Grass Roots Movement.
On December 25, 2009, Adams performed on BET's The Mo'Nique Show, where she sang "Already Alright," from her 1999 Mountain High...Valley Low album. Mo'Nique stated that the song is one of her favorites.
As of 2010, the new album, highly anticipated follow-up to What a Wonderful Time, is still in the making.
Yolanda Adams appeared at the 53rd Grammy Awards where she took part in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, along with Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, and Martina McBride. Adams performed Spirit in the Dark - Franklin's classic from 1970. On several occasions, Franklin stated that she "especially loved" Yolanda's performance