Artist Statement for YolandaNanda, 2020:
I almost decided that my making music was too insignificant in light of the current situation in our world. I almost said "no more" to myself. I felt crushed under the weight of this time we are living in. I thought that making more music would not help at this time. Honestly, I have been going through a major shift in my consciousnesses (reflecting humanity's consciousness shift), and for a time I could not see my way through it. I have been learning about my own white fragility and the privileges I hold simply because I'm white. I may be queer, but my white privilege protects me from experiences that my black family, my black queer family, and my indigenous family go through on a daily basis. All of what I am processing is necessary to understand in order to move forward and create the kind of world that is life-giving to all of us. This is a time where "upset" is needed, and I believe, FEELING the upset and working through it is needed. I am reminded of this Bible verse:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New International Version)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
This Bible verse was also a top ten song by The Byrds called Turn Turn Turn in the 60's when I was growing up. The song helped me process my fears and anxiety about the Vietnam War and The Civil Rights Movement. You may remember I was born in Alabama in 1956 and unrest and protests in the street and horrible racist behavior was going on all around me as i was growing up- and don't get me started about how people (including the principal of my elementary and middle school ) harassed and abused me for being a "sissy/faggot". In the midst of my processing all of my young experiences, and creating a vision in my mind for a better future, I made a commitment to myself to create art and music that would inspire other people like the song Turn Turn Turn inspired me.
When I got older, moved to NYC to create art, music, and theater, I contracted HIV, had dangerous abusive relationships, had survival jobs, and lived in an exciting East Village atmosphere of change and growth for the LGBTQAI community. I then moved to Vermont and finally had the courage and inspiration to call my self Yolanda and begin to write music that chronicled my journey. That journey led me back to NYC in 2001 just in time for 9/11, but also created an opportunity to meet my husband Glen, and to go to seminary and start my music ministry. Since 2011, I have become the Rev. Yolanda that you know today.
All the way through my life, creating art that reflected the journey in all of its challenges and enlightenment, has been what I believe is mine to do in this lifetime. I wrote a song called "Somebody Save Me", which appears on my cd Country Gospel Kirtan vol 2: https://yolanda.net/track/1981950/somebody-save-me , it says...
"There's gotta be a reason I have survived all of the drama in my life. I've dealt with disease, poverty and strife. I've dealt with lovers who bled me dry...And there's gotta be a way outta here. I can find it if I try. I've got to look for the Light. But the night is so cold and my feelings are so frightening. Will I die or will I rise?"
I chose at that time to RISE! I am now choosing again to RISE!!! I know in my heart that YOU are also choosing to RISE to co-create with me a new human experience on this planet. One that values all life, because all life is ONE and EVERYTHING in life is HOLY.
This is the reason I still make music and offer my latest YolandaNanda to YOU! This creative process has given me some Hope and Light, and I hope it blesses you on your journey.