PERPETUAL CHANGE-by Pamela DeGroff
Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour — The Movie
Rev. Yolanda (a.k.a. Roger Anthony Mapes) is an artist who has been featured in this column several times since I first heard her 1999 album Yolanda And The Plastic Family. Over the years, several interviews and music project reviews have followed.
A couple years back, Rev. Yolanda developed a live musical called Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time gospel Hour. The show won a Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs Award (MAC) earlier this year for Best Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist. The show has since been filmed and is scheduled to be premiered next month in Colorado.
Along with all this, Rev. Yolanda has also partnered with Howard Hopwood to develop a recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The focus of this project is to eventually provide a working recording studio environment for LGBT artists that is not only welcoming but affordable. As of this writing, the project is temporarily on hold due to funding issues, but not entirely out of the picture. Rev. Yolanda still plans on being involved when the time arrives.
Until then, in this latest TGForum interview, Rev. Yolanda not only talks about the studio project, but offers a lot of insight into Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour — The Movie.
TGForum: You’re originally from the Muscle Shoals area, right?
Yolanda: Yes. There are several towns that cluster together into the Muscle Shoals area. They are Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, Tuscumbia (home of Helen Keller), and Florence (home of W.C. Handy and Rev. Yolanda.)
TGF: How long have you known Howard?
Yolanda: I just met Howard recently. He’s originally from Sheffield and contacted me online after hearing my song Muscle Shoals.
TGF: Will you have any active involvement/participation in the fundraising activities for the studio project?
Yolanda: Yes. I’m so excited about it. I’m offering my CDs and house concerts as perks.
TGF: What about active involvement in the studio itself? Any plans to maybe record there?
Yolanda: Yes, and yes, I have always wanted to record in Muscle Shoals!
TGF: Let’s talk about the movie. It’s your Old Time Gospel Hour show filmed in its entirety, correct?
Yolanda: Yes, and much more.
TGF: Any “behind the scenes” material included?
Yolanda: Indeed! It’s really about my life and ministry, including footage of me and my husband, our weekly ministry together and the community we have gathered around us.
TGF: Where was it filmed?
Yolanda: In NYC at The Duplex, the Halloween Parade, in our home and in the home of friends.?TGF: Did you have a say in the editing?
Yolanda: A little bit. I asked for certain things to be included, especially our wedding footage from the Halloween Parade.
TGF: Who were the producers, and what were the circumstances that lead up to a movie being made?
Yolanda: The filmmaker and producer is Ike Allen of Avaiya Media who created A Course In Miracles The Movie. He makes documentaries about spiritual movements and was looking to create a movie that focuses on LGBTQI voices in the spiritual conversation. We found each other through a weekly radio broadcast that Glenn and I do with a group called Awakening-Together.org.
TGF: When and where will it be premiered?
Yolanda: Premiere is September 5 in Boulder, Colorado, at The Unity Church of Boulder. The LGBTQI PRIDE celebration is the same week and we will be doing joint events.
TGF: A while back, you mentioned something about starting work on your next album, which would be God Is: Vol. 2, right? Anything you can tell us about it at this point?
Yolanda: I plan to record and release Vol. 2 in 2015. I can’t say much about it yet as I’m lining up some very special guests to work on it with me. Please stay tuned and get on my email list at www.yolanda.net for details on all upcoming events. I know that 2015 is gonna be a rockin’ year. One thing I can tell you in advance (because it’s now confirmed) if that Rev. Yolanda will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on January 4 at B.B. King’s in NYC.
TGF: In closing, any final words?
Yolanda: I’m so grateful to you and the LGBTQI Community for staying connected and interested in me and my music. It’s an honor to receive your friendship and support. Believe me when I say that I couldn’t do it without you. You, Freddie Freeman, Len Rogers, Outvoice and everyone who has bought my CDs or voted for me to stay in the charts … have been a tremendous blessing in my life. I love you immensely.
One last thing is to check out Freddie Freeman’s beautiful new spiritual album called Raise It Up, It’s really great! And, there will be a DVD release of my movie. It will be handled by Avaiya Media.
As mentioned in the interview, Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time gospel Hour The Movie will have its official launch in Colorado, during local Pride related events. Here are all the corresponding dates:
- Sept. 5th, 7 p.m.Unity of Boulder, Boulder., CO.
- Sept. 6th, 7 p.m. Center For Spiritual Living, Denver, CO.
- Sept. 7th, 12:30 p.m. New Dawn Center for Spiritual Living, Aurora, CO
- Sept. 7th, 6 p.m. Unity Church of Denver, Denver, CO.
- Sept. 9th, 7 p.m. Bas Bleu Theatre, Fort Collins, CO.
There is also a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get national distribution for the film. For more information, and to contribute, please visit the Kickstarter page. And, don’t forget to check out Yolanda’s website, and the film’s website.
About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.