Destiny wrapped its arms around Yolanda Adams early in life.
While other 13-year-olds were busy doing the regular teenage hustle, the Grammy Award-winning gospel singer was already expressing herself on stage. Adams remembers the moment she knew performing was more than a momentary blip.
"It was more of a wow moment, as opposed to an earth-shattering lightning fireworks moment," says the Houston native. "It said this is bigger than your 13-year-old self. Bigger than what you can physically see. Bigger than what you can physically say or sing."
Adams knew singing would be part of her life somehow, but she didn't expect it to take precedence over everything else. But that particular path wouldn't bloom up before her for more than a decade. Instead, the 6-foot, 1-inch 13-year-old aspired to be a model. When that didn't pan out, she went to college for radio, film and TV, hoping to work as a reporter. That dream was sunk after a corporate buyout at the CBS affiliate where she landed an internship, and she had to figure out how to "pay for my cherry red Firebird that I bought as a graduation gift to myself." She turned to teaching. It paid the bills and allowed her to continue to sing. After landing a chance to record a solo project, she followed the musical breadcrumbs to a life of shining on stage, perhaps where she was destined to land from the very beginning.
"I’m very aware of the power of my presence," says Adams, 58. "I’m really aware that when I'm feeling that message I’m singing or saying, that it's coming through for me, then nine times out of 10 it’s coming through for the audience."
Dove Award winners Adams and gospel singer Marvin Sapp will bring their "Blessed by the Best Gospel Explosion" to Pikes Peak Center on Friday.
Adams has released a dozen albums, beginning with her 1988 debut, "Just as I Am," and is known for blending modern gospel music with soul and jazz. Her hits include “Open My Heart,” “Still I Rise,” “The Battle is the Lord’s” and “Never Give Up." She's also hosted her own syndicated radio show, "The Yolanda Adams Morning Show,” for more than a decade.
Her music isn't only a beautiful, hand-clapping good time, but also meant to uplift and inspire.
"We aim those songs toward people who need the most strength and encouragement," she says. "I want to show people life can be so amazing even with everything that goes on. You don’t have to stay in a situation mentally, emotionally and spiritually lower than you."
As the years accumulate, so, too, has the strength of Adams' Christian faith. Aging has helped her realize the beauty of the journey if you allow yourself to enjoy it along the way.
"So many people don’t get a chance to live out what they really really enjoy because they’re not being fearless," she says. "I’m not afraid to fail. I’ve failed a few times. But to me they were lessons about what I’m passionate about. I definitely know what it’s like to have the experience of walking on water when everything around you is turbulence."