Inspiration, healing, and encouragement is what you get when your turn on any song by gospel great Yolanda Adams. The award winning artist has carried the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational albums for decades. Her contribution to America’s soundtrack solidified her spot as one of the National Museum of African American Music’s Rhapsody & Rhythm Award honorees at this year’s Celebration of Legends Gala on May 31 at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music

Known as the “Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music,” the “First Lady of Modern Gospel,” and the “Reigning Queen of Urban Gospel,” Adams has a slew of accolades including multiple GRAMMY Awards, Dove Awards, NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, an American Music Award, and a Soul Train Music Award. Billboard named Adams as the top Gospel Artist of the Decade ending in 2009.

Her mother studied music, and Yolanda and her five younger siblings heard everything from jazz to classical to rhythm and blues. Adams soaked up the sounds of gospel legends James Cleveland and the Edwin Hawkins Singers, jazz legend Nancy Wilson, and R&B icon Stevie Wonder. Her wide range of sonic textures, combined with years in the church choir, helped to create her pioneering blend of modern gospel mixed with R&B and an infusion of jazz. With her signature sound, Yolanda Adams helped to transform the gospel music landscape.

Becoming Yolanda Adams

Before stepping into music full time, Adams was a school teacher in Houston, Texas and a part time model. In the late 80s, Yolanda released her debut album, Just as I Am.

She was initially criticized for embracing secular music and fashion while singing gospel music. In the ’90s, gospel music became more mainstream, and in 1999 she got her big break with the release of the highly acclaimed album, Mountain High… Valley Low. The album garnered Adams a GRAMMY Award. Single from the album include the hit, “Open My Heart,” “Yeah,” and “Fragile Heart.”


She went on to release a Christmas album, and then in 2001, released the live album The Experience, which netted her a second GRAMMY. She has gone on to win multiple GRAMMYs.

She has released a total of 13 albums over the years.

In 2017, Adams was inducted into the Gospel Music Award’s Hall of Fame for outstanding achievements in the Christian music industry. Most recently, the singer was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) for the successful production, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical.”

A Living African American Music Legend

Yolanda Adams is multi-talented with her career reaching from producer, songwriter, singer, actress, author, and the former radio host of her own nationally syndicated morning gospel show.  Yolanda Adams is a living legend, worthy to be praised for her contributions to America’s soundtrack by fusing together secular and gospel music.

Celebrating the Legends Gala

The annual Celebrating the Legends Gala is a special tribute to the dynamic artists and musical pioneers who have created and contributed musically to American culture. Learn more by visiting our website.