Sunday, October 28, 2012

High Ground (FILM REVIEW)

High Ground
Film Review by Kam Williams
Wounded Vets Scale Himalayan Mountain in PTSD Documentary  

            Of the over two million soldiers who fought in Irag and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands subsequently developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Upon returning to the States, the injured have frequently failed to find an adequate support system, in part due to a Veterans’ Administration ill-equipped to address mental health issues.
            Unfortunately, even well-meaning family members and old friends seem to keep their distance, often having little more to offer than empty accolades like “Thank you for your service,” delivered in a phony tone of voice which simultaneously suggests, “Stay away!” Is it any surprise, then, that so many who have been honorably discharged are having trouble making the adjustment back to civilian life, with some taking their own lives?
            Their abandonment, plight and a unique form of therapy is the subject of High Ground, a very moving documentary devoted to chronicling the exploits of a mountain climbing team comprised of wounded warriors plagued by PTSD. Half of them suffered obvious physical wounds from battles or IEDS, while the others were left less-obviously traumatized by fallout from events like a shock wave concussion or being raped by a comrade.
             Directed by Michael Brown, the movie divides its time between emotional interviews with its 11 subjects and recounting their perilous trek to the 20,000 foot-high peak of the Himalayas’ Mount Lobuche. While the picture certainly serves up its share of visually-captivating panoramas, the real reason to watch is to witness the heartfelt reflections of the soldiers.
            For example, Katherine “Rizzo” Ragazzino talks about becoming homeless because her pension didn’t kick-in, and Ashley Crandall reveals that she’s been suicidal for six years since being sexually assaulted while on a tour of duty overseas. A lot of these vets appear to have memory issues, yet seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that they’re never going to be normal again. Perhaps this explains why they prefer the company of others who have also survived combat.
            An empathetic portrait which manages to humanize so-called Generation Kill, a group of vets easily dismissed by most of polite society as undeserving of concern since they chose to enlist in an all-volunteer military. After all, they needed a draft to fight the Vietnam War.    

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 92 minutes
Distributor: Red Flag Releasing

To see a trailer for High Ground, visit:

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Film Review by Kam Williams

Hero Pilot Participates in Cover-Up in Special F/X-Driven Legal Thriller

            Co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty) is at the helm of SouthJet Flight 227 from Orlando to Atlanta only because the plane’s captain, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), has passed out after a night of debauchery devoted to drinking booze and snorting coke while carousing with one of his stewardesses (Nadine Velazquez). But when the commercial airliner unexpectedly encounters severe turbulence and starts losing altitude, the concerned rookie immediately rouses the senior officer out of a deep sleep for assistance.     
            Despite a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit, the veteran aviator assumes control and quickly ascertains that the plane’s plunge is due to a complete failure of the hydraulic system. He further surmises that the only hope of pulling out of the precipitous nosedive depends upon his lowering the landing gear prematurely, dumping fuel, and flying the aircraft upside-down.
            Against all odds, he executes each step flawlessly, unless you count clipping the top off a church steeple moments before making an emergency landing in an open field. 96 of the 102 souls aboard survive, and Whip’s astonishing feat is soon the subject of a national media circus, ala Sully Sullenberger’s real-life Miracle on the Hudson.
            However, in the course of conducting its routine investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) subsequently uncovers incriminating evidence that the pilot had a blood alcohol level of .24 at the time of the accident. And since a half-dozen people perished in the crash, Captain Whitaker could conceivably be held criminally liable for their deaths.
            Will the celebrated hero’s image be tarnished by scandal? Not if his defense attorney (Don Cheadle) and union rep (Bruce Greenwood) have anything to say about it. The two hatch a plan to suppress the toxicology report and to sober Whip up by the time of the NTSB hearing.
            Directed by Academy Award-winner Bob Zemeckis (for Forest Gump), Flight is a riveting thriller marked by spellbinding special effects and a nonpareil performance on the part of two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington (for Glory and Training Day). After the spectacular, stomach-churning, opening scene plane crash, the picture shifts in tone to a character-driven portrait of a self-destructive addict in denial and plagued by demons.            
            The capable supporting cast features Kelly Reilly as Whip’s love interest, John Goodman as his drug dealer, Melissa Leo as a snoopy NTSB bureaucrat, as well as Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood. But make no mistake, this is as much a star vehicle as Zemeckis’ Cast Away, where Tom Hanks was the only actor on screen for over an hour.    
            An instant screen classic destined to be deemed among the very best of Zemeckis, alongside Gump, Back to the Future and What Lies Beneath.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, nudity, sexuality and an intense action sequence.
Running time: 139 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

To see a trailer for Flight, visit: 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Top Ten DVD releases for 10-30-12

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for October 30, 2012                          

Safety Not Guaranteed

First Position

Long Day’s Journey into Night

The Campaign


Icy Escapades


Elvis & Madonna

Ruby Sparks

Infidelity: Sex Stories 2


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Campaign (DVD REVIEW)

The Campaign
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Ferrell and Galifianakis Co-Star as Adversaries in Election Year Comedy

            If you’re looking for a timely, laugh-a-minute comedy about the dirty tricks being employed during a cutthroat political campaign, your wait is over. The Campaign stars Will Ferrell as Cam Brady, a popular North Carolina Congressman who’s running unopposed for his fifth term in office until an Anthony Weiner-level peccadillo becomes public knowledge.
            That boneheaded blunder opens the door for a nerdy, unworthy opponent named Marty Higgins (Zach Galifianakis) to enter the race. He’s being bankrolled by a couple of very wealthy businessman, Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), sleazy, power-hungry siblings ostensibly patterned after the billionaire Koch brothers, notorious backers of arch-conservative causes. 
            Bragging about being “candidate creators” more than “job creators,” the Motches specifically seize on naïve Marty since he’s so malleable. From behind the scenes, they orchestrate a complete overhaul of Higgins’ image with the help of a no-nonsense campaign manager (Dylan McDermott).
            Soon, Brady realizes he’s in the fight of his life, as both sides resort to increasingly-devious tactics to prevail on Election Day. For instance, we find Marty wearing what he calls a “Yamaha” on his head during services at a synagogue, while Cam sings in the gospel choir of a black Baptist Church and plays with rattlesnakes to curry favor with the congregation of a sect of serpent-handling evangelists.
            But despite his best efforts, Brady continues to sabotage his own campaign at every turn, whether by accidentally punching a baby and a puppy, or by being caught having sex with a supporter in a port-o-john. And when the polls indicate that the tide is turning decisively in Marty’s favor, the focus becomes whether he’ll be a tool of the Motch brothers or choose to do what’s best for his district.
            Will Ferrell’s over-the-top approach to Cam serves as the perfect counterpoint to Zach Galifianakis’ relatively-subdued interpretation of sweet-natured Marty. The film also features several inspired support performances, most notably, Dylan McDermott and Jason Sudeikis as equally-devious campaign managers, and Karen Maruyama as an ebonics-accented Asian housekeeper.
            Throw in amusing cameos by a neverending string of political pundits like Bill Maher, Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Piers Morgan, Joe Scarborough, Lawrence O’Donnell, Willie Geist, Mika Brezezinski, Ed Schultz and Dennis Miller, and you’ve got all the makings for a bona fide election season sensation. Galifianakis and Ferrell as the funniest candidates money can buy!

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and crude humor.
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Warner Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes; gag reel; Line-O-Rama; and more.

To see a trailer for The Campaign, visit:

Hoodwinked (FILM REVIEW)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Black Stereotypes Debunked in Thought-Provoking Sequel

            In 2007, I named What Black Men Think the Best Documentary of the year in my annual Blacktrospective film feature. Now, Janks Morton, Jr. is back with Hoodwinked, an equally thought-provoking sequel to his groundbreaking directorial debut.
             This go-round, Janks again handles emcee duties in a project ostensibly designed to debunk a host of harmful stereotypes about African-Americans. He’s helped in that endeavor by an impressive supporting cast comprised of esteemed luminaries like Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Boyce Watkins,  Dr. Steve Perry, Dr. Ivory Toldson, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, Dr. Joseph Marshall, Maniko Barthelemy and Kai Jackson.
            The movie opens with a confrontational quote from Malcolm X, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” before Janks launches into a series of impromptu, man-in-the-street interviews where he asks brothers and sisters to name some positive stereotypes about black people. Most struggle to come up with even one, which prompts Dr. Hill to surmise that blacks have internalized white supremacy.
            Next, Janks poses several questions to help highlight how some commonly-held, mistaken beliefs about blacks have left the bulk of the community brainwashed about itself. For example, he asks, “Are there more black men in jail or in college?” and the response he invariably gets is “in jail,” which is totally erroneous.
            He goes on to challenge more of the conventional wisdom about blacks on issues ranging from the high school dropout rate to the percentage of deadbeat dads to the ratio of females to males attending college.
            Sadly, many African-American appearing here are “skeptical about any statistics that don’t show blacks in a negative light” leading one of the experts to conclude that they must have “whitewashed minds.” Overall, Hoodwinked serves as a sobering wake-up call that it’s high time for blacks to unlearn self-hating propaganda and to “turn to each other” instead of “on each other,” as suggested by Dr. Hill.
            Here, here! The black community owes a debt of gratitude to Janks Morton for his continued commitment to raising African-American cultural consciousness.    

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 87 minutes
Distributor: iYAGO Entertainment Group

To see a trailer for Hoodwinked, visit: 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kam's Movie Kapsules for 11-2-12

Kam's Kapsules:      
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun         
by Kam Williams
For movies opening November 2, 2012


Flight (R for drug and alcohol abuse, nudity, sexuality and an intense action sequence) Denzel Washington stars in this legal thriller about a hero pilot who tries to hide his alcohol addiction with the help of a defense attorney (Don Cheadle) after miraculously crash-landing a crippled commercial airliner by flying the plane upside-down. With John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Kelly Reilly.

The Man with the Iron Fists (R for profanity, drug use, graphic sexuality and gory violence) Gangsta’ rapper-turned-actor makes his scriptwriting and directorial debut while starring in this martial arts saga, set in 19th C. China, about a humble blacksmith who invents an assortment of elaborate weapons for the defense of his adopted hometown when the town is invaded by an army of assassins searching for a fabled treasure. With Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Pam Grier, Rick Yune and Jamie Chung.    

Wreck-It Ralph (PG for crude humor and mild violence) John C. Reilly plays the title role in this animated comedy about a computer game villain who makes the most of an opportunity to play a good guy after escaping to a neighboring video arcade game. Voice cast includes Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, Dennis Haysbert, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill and Adam Carolla.   


The Bay (R for profanity, bloody images and disturbing violence) Oscar-winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man) directed this gruesome horror flick about the chaos which erupts in a quaint Maryland town in the wake of an ecological disaster. Featuring Kristen Connelly, Jane McNeill, Christopher Denham and Michael Beasley.

Bones Brigade (Unrated) Skateboarding retrospective recounting the Eighties exploits of a half-dozen California teens who transformed the sport from a horizontal to an omni-directional endeavor. With Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, Ben Harper and Tony Hawk. 

Café de Flore (Unrated) Double-stranded meditation on love, one, set in present-day Montreal, the other, in Paris in the Sixties. The former revolves around a DJ (Kevin Parent) torn between a girlfriend (Evelyne Brochu) and his ex-wife (Helene Florent), while the latter is about an overprotective single-mom’s (Vanessa Paradis) devotion to a son with Down Syndrome (Marin Gerrier). With Alice Dubois, Michel Dumont and Linda Smith. (In French with subtitles)

The Details (R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and brief violence) Macabre comedy about an estranged couple already in crisis (Elizabeth Banks and Tobey Maguire) whose troubles only escalate when a family of raccoons invades their backyard. Supporting cast includes Ray Liotta, Kerry Washington and Laura Linney. 

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (Unrated) Shutterbug biopic chronicling the career of a photographer famous for taking surreal snapshots of American suburban life.  

High Ground (Unrated) PTSD documentary about a team of Iraq and Afghan War veterans who were led by a blind guide on a perilous trek to the 20,000 foot-high peak of the Himalayas’ Mount Lobuche in order heal from the mental and emotional ravages of combat.   

Jack and Diane (Unrated) Homoerotic horror flick about two teenagers (Riley Keough and Juno Temple) whose passionate, summer-long affair in NYC has the surprising side-effect of turning one of them into a werewolf. Supporting cast includes Kylie Minogue, Dana DeHaan and Leo Fitzpatrick.

A Late Quartet (R for profanity and sexuality) Ensemble drama, set in NYC, about the fallout for a world-renowned string quartet after their leader (Christopher Walken) is diagnosed with a terrible illness, and two other members’ (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener) marriage falls apart when the husband has an affair. With Imogen Poots, Wallace Shawn, Madhur Jaffrey and Mark Ivanir.

A Man’s Story (Unrated) Reverential biopic about black Brit designer Ozwald Boateng, considered “The Coolest Man on Earth” in certain high fashion circles.

North Sea Texas (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama in which an introverted teenager (Ben Van den Heuvel) finds it increasingly hard to hide the crush he has on the seemingly-straight boy next-door (Nathan Naenen). With Eva van der Gucht, Thomas Coumans and Katelijne Damen. (In Dutch with subtitles)

This Must Be the Place (Unrated) Sean Penn stars in this revenge flick as a retired rock star living off his royalties in Ireland who crisscrosses the American heartland to track down the Nazi war criminal (Heinz Lieven) that had tortured his recently-deceased father at Auschwitz. With Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsch and David Byrne. (In English and Hebrew with subtitles)

Vamps (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, profanity and drug use) Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter co-star in this horror comedy about a couple of club-addicted party girls who have to hide the fact that they’re vampires while dating up a storm around Manhattan. Cast includes Richard Lewis, Sigourney Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, Marilu Henner and Wallace Shawn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Black Church (BOOK REVIEW)

The Black Church:
Where Women Pray and Men Prey
by Deborrah Cooper
Amagination Publishing
Paperback, $21.95
212 pages
ISBN: 978-1-105-63687-5
Book Review by Kam Williams

“If you are a single black woman regularly attending church and tithing, or you are a woman with children that accompany you to church, please open your mind to the expressed dangers within the walls of your house of worship, because far too often, black women go to church to pray to God, and black men are there to game on, feed on and prey on them like predators…
The ills suffered by women in black churches under patriarchal philosophies of male superiority are shocking. Throughout the pages of this book are real stories about churches and the pastors that run them.
These are true accounts of men charged with spiritual enrichment and development of communities—behaving in damaging, abusive ways toward women and children… My goal always has and always will be to expose uncomfortable truths in black culture in relationships.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. xvi-xviii)

            It’s hard to imagine that whoever coined the phrase, “The closer to church, the further from God,” could possibly have had as long a laundry list of complaints about Christianity as disbeliever Deborrah Cooper. Actually, Ms. Cooper’s issues are mostly with the black males in the Black Church, whether in the pulpits or the pews.
            This fearless feminist levels so many accusations against brothers it’s frightening. But she does make a persuasive case by way of a compelling mix of statistics and anecdotal evidence.
            She chides black females for being the most religious demographic in the country, since they’re getting little out of religion besides pie-in-the-sky promises. Meanwhile, their pastors are pressuring them to tithe 10%, even though such a directive is apparently nowhere to be found in the bible.
            The author further alleges that an unholy arrangement exists whereby African-American women are basically being exploited by pimps posing as preachers. She says that these ruthless exploiters zero-in on the vulnerable and lonely with low self-esteem, make them dependent, promise them riches, and use a combination of seduction and intimidation to keep them under control.
            Her incendiary verbiage will undoubtedly strike most folks as extreme, but Cooper sees stirring up controversy as her only hope of shaking sisters out of the doldrums. That’s why she summarizes by saying, “As long as black women allow themselves to be dazzled by fast-talking black men and their weapons of religion, we will always be at the bottom… Church leaders have proven themselves to be undeserving of your devotion or of your respect, and most certainly undeserving of your money.”
            A damning indictment of black ministers as little more than predators in cleric’s clothing.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yolanda Adams (INTERVIEW)

Yolanda Adams
The “How Sweet the Sound” Interview
with Kam Williams

Headline: How Sweet Yolanda!

            Ever since her late-Eighties debut, “Just as I Am,” Yolanda Adams has triumphantly carried the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational music via a dozen glorious albums. Stunningly beautiful, exceptionally educated, filled with the spirit and blessed with one of the most powerful voices in any genre of music, this former schoolteacher is a stately beacon of God’s light.
            Born in Houston on August 27, 1961, Yolanda has earned numerous accolades for her shining efforts, including the first American Music Award for Contemporary Gospel Artist and four Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. Among the highlights of her career was winning five Grammy Awards which includes 1999′s Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for “Mountain High…Valley Low” featuring her crossover breakthrough hit “Open My Heart,” and 2005′s Best Gospel Song, co-written by Ms. Adams herself, “Be Blessed.”
            Christened “The First Lady of Modern Gospel,” Yolanda’s pioneering blend of gospel with R&B infused with a touch of jazz continues to inspire her fans and transform the musical landscape. “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show” can currently be heard on radio stations all across the country.
            Most of Yolanda’s fans know that she was once a schoolteacher; less known is the fact that she earned her college degree in Radio/Television Broadcasting. Joined by her distinguished co-hosts, the hilarious Marcus Wiley, and insightful Anthony Valary, Yolanda’s show is all about waking up in the sandbox every morning and having F-U-N!
            “We have a great morning show,” Yolanda says, beaming. “It’s not a gospel show or an inspirational show, but a versatile program. I wanted to create a clean, alternative morning show for people of faith.
            Faith, Love, Forgiveness, Protection and Praise! These are just five of the ten gifts explored in Yolanda Adams new power-filled inaugural book, “Points of Power.” Inspired by the Points of Power segment from her morning show, Yolanda reveals her own personal experiences to show how the Bible will enlighten readers and provide them with insight and understanding to respond positively to life’s challenges. “Points of Power” provides the tools, the wisdom and spiritual guidance for living a praise-filled, prayerful, and joyful life.
            Here, she talks about her life and career, and about hosting Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound,” the country’s most prestigious gospel music celebration and competition. Now, in its fifth year of celebrating the community and the power of gospel music, “How Sweet the Sound’s” national finale will be staged in New York on November 4th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Kam Williams: Hi Yolanda, I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Yolanda Adams: It’s great to talk to you, Kam.  

KW: What interested you in How Sweet the Sound?
YA: First of all, it gave me an opportunity to spend time with my great friends Donald Lawrence, CeCe Winans, Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond and Hezekiah Walker. Whenever we can hang out, it’s wonderful. Unless we’re on tour together, we usually don’t have a lot of opportunities to see each other, other than at something special like award shows. So, I was excited to do this.

KW: What’s it been like judging How Sweet the Sound? Is it similar to the job you do on BET’s Sunday Best?
YA: No, I actually co-hosted with Donald this year. So, I didn’t have to face the difficult challenge of judging these great choirs.

KW: Do you care to share which choir you think is going to win?
YA: The crazy part is that the finalists are the top choirs from all of the cities that we chose. So, there are no duds left in this selection of choirs. These really are just the cream of the crop, the best choirs in the U.S.

KW: How is picking the best Gospel group different from picking the best singer from a show like American Idol or The Voice?
YA: The only difference is whether you can feel the heart of the song, the heart of what they’re trying to convey. You still have to be professional. The choir’s moves still have to in sync. So, you’re looking at the same criteria you’d find on American Idol or Sunday Best. 

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’m going to mix-in their questions with some of my own. Larry Greenberg says, I just listened to "Victory" and I was truly blown away and inspired. Do you mind if I listen to it every time I start a new project?
YA: Not at all. Thank you so much, Larry. I appreciate it. [Laughs]

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: Which of your songs has the most personal meaning for you?
YA: That’s like asking: Which of your children is the most precious? When I write a song, it comes from the heart and is based on a specific experience. You can’t really say that one experience is greater than another, because all of your experiences take you through life on this journey.

KW: Harriet also asks: Which one do you think has the biggest emotional impact on your audience?
YA: Wow! I have no idea. Some days it may be “Just a Prayer Away.” 
Some audiences want “Victory,” like Larry. Others want “The Battle Is the Lord’s.” I have so many songs that have impacted people in different ways. “Fragile Heart” is one that really took off years ago in South Africa when I had 20,000 people singing along with me.

KW: Finally, Harriet asks: Do you ever feel that the spiritual essence of a Gospel song’s message is transformed when you sing in a secular arena instead of a church?
YA: No. No. Unh-uh. The message is still the same. The delivery is still the same. You have to understand that everyone has a heart, and when it hits, the emotion is there.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier says: You have a great voice. Have you ever sung in French?
YA: Thank you very much. No, I haven’t, but we are definitely looking at doing an album in French, and another one in Spanish.

KW: Patricia would also like to know if you are interested in writing your autobiography.
YA: Nah, not yet. I don’t think it’s time yet. I still have a few more things I want to accomplish first. Maybe in another ten years.

KW: Lastly, Patricia’s says: You served as spokesperson for Operation Rebound, a program that addressed the concern of inner-city schoolchildren. Many young people want to make it in the music business and do not see the value of education. You worked in the past as a schoolteacher while you were modeling. Can you share with us the importance of education and how it helped you in the music business?
YA: Education helps you to be a well-rounded person, period. It teaches you how to take in information and data, process it, and use it for life building. Education was key in my family. You were going to college. Unfortunately, I think what’s happening nowadays is that many young people think they don’t need to avail themselves of higher education because a lot of music stars left high school before graduating. Kam, you and I both know that you can be hot today in the music business and then nobody knows who you are tomorrow. So, you always have to have a good education. I am a stickler for that.  

KW: And some of those rappers are college-educated.
YA: Yeah, nobody talks about how Puffy went to Howard University or about Lil Wayne attending the University of Houston. All the young kids know is what they see on the videos. They don’t realize that these guys have taken managerial and business courses, and know how to brand and how to market themselves. They’re very smart.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
YA: Kim Burrell’s “Sweeter.” That was the last one we played before signing off today. 

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
YA: I know Tasha very well. She’s so fearless, I would never see her as afraid. Fear? Wow! I don’t call it fear. I call it awareness. I only think fear comes when you’re unsure or in danger, but I’ve never been put in a dangerous situation.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
YA: Oh, yes!

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
YA: About fifteen minutes ago with my daughter. She’s hilarious! [LOL] 

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
YA: My guiltiest pleasure must be watching Ru Paul’s Drag U.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
YA: The Law of Confession by Bill Winston.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
YA: Omigosh! Kam, I just love to cook. Some of my favorites are sautéed kale, shrimp scampi and lobster risotto.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
YA: Wow! That’s a great question. New challenges, especially doing things that people think are impossible for a Gospel artist.

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
YA: Me! I have my own fashion line that can be found at I also definitely like Mark Bouwer, Donna Karan and Kevan Hall, and I’ve really been into Etro these days.

KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets,” asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
YA: My best was to own everything that belongs to me. My worst was once making a spur of the moment decision because I needed the money.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
YA: I see a very happy mom who is in love with life and in love.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
YA: I know everybody says world peace but, seriously, world peace. I really wish we could have world peace.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
YA: Probably an eagle. I respect the eagle so much.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
YA: Having lots of fun and laughter in the house with my mom, dad and siblings. I didn’t grow up in one of those restrictive Christian households where you couldn’t do this or that. We were brought up with a great collection of good morals and good values, but we also had fun. We’d go to church on Sunday, but then have ice cream, roller skate or play in the park afterwards. 

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
YA: Guess that would’ve had to be in the third gray when Michael Gray said he didn’t like me. [Laughs] It was puppy love, and the pain of the rejection left me convinced I was never going to share my feelings with anybody ever again.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 
YA: Determination!

KW: The Michael Ealy question: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
YA: Mahalia Jackson.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
YA: I have several. I love St. Jude’s and The Children’s Defense Fund. And I have my own, The Voice of an Angel Foundation. We mentor kids from 9th grade all the way through college.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
YA: Hone your craft, study the history of the music, and sing anywhere that you can.

KW: What was it like to be invited to participate in Oprah’s Legends Ball?
YA: It was amazing! First of all, I felt quite honored to be acknowledged as one of the younguns with Shirley Caesar serving as my legend. Oprah was very adamant that she wanted to celebrate the people who had made a difference in her life. I had no idea that I had impacted her that deeply. My invitation came at one of the lowest points of my life. No one knows this, so you’re getting an exclusive, Kam. I was going through a divorce proceeding. And then to get an invitation saying that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life when your own is going down the tubes relationship and family-wise, can you imagine where I was in that space? So, I had to make a decision, do I go, even though I might not feel up to participating, knowing what’s going on at home with the lawyers? How do I deal with this? Then a soft voice whispered to me, “Go, and be blessed!” And I was like, “Okay, I’m going.” It was the best decision I could have ever made, because there were so many wonderful women there who had impacted my life since I was a little girl: Dionne Warwick, Leontyne Price, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Caesar, Gladys Knight, and many others. It was almost as if Oprah knew how they had affected my life. I was just overwhelmed! God told me to dream bigger that day. And listen, Kam, I have not let go of that. I am trying to do everything I possibly can and I don’t do anything that I don’t absolutely love. Isn’t that a great place to be?

KW: Absolutely! How did the mike come to be passed during the Gospel brunch?
YA: BeBe Winans has this knack for getting people to sing when they’re supposed to be on vacation. [LOL] And he’s very persuasive. He’s such a great friend. Everybody loves BeBe Winans. He just started passing the mike and seven or eight people sang.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
YA: Wow! I want to be remembered as a person who loved and cared for people and who genuinely wanted the best for them. As a nice all-around person. That is my goal for my daughter. I’ve been teaching her that since she was in the womb. People deserve your kindness. They deserve your best. If you’re giving them less than that, it’s almost like you’re robbing God of the chance to show who He is. 

KW: Thanks for such a great interview, Yolanda. It actually gave me goose bumps.
YA: Thank you, Kam. You’re so sweet. You have a wonderful day.

To see Yolanda participating in Oprah's Gospel Brunch, visit:
To see the How Sweet the Sound Trailer, visit: