This review of Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes' Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour, Part 2: Be The Love at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour, Part 2: Be The Love
Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes & The Yolandaleers
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher Street
New York, New York 10014
Reviewed 3/12/15 at 6:30 p.m.
Rev. Yolanda won the 2014 MAC Award in the category of Impersonation/Characterization/Drag Artist for her show Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour. Now she's back with Part 2 entitled Be The Love where "the Divine Masculine meets the Divine Feminine in the Arms of Love!" The Yolandaleers, a four-member Gospel Band led by Musical Director Kenneth Gartman, open the show with a solo number containing the upbeat lyric, "I feel like something good is about to happen...This could be that very day!" and soon our anticipation is rewarded with the presence on stage of Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes, a voluptuous Drag Queen and Legal Interfaith Minister who offers up a lively celebration of self-love and empowerment. Rev. Yolanda's energy and charisma never fail as she inspires her audience to seek the light within them to co-create with her the experience both she and the audience are about to have. The fact that Rev. Yolanda is dressed as a woman, with a large red wig ("the higher the hair, the closer to God") and black platform shoes with 6 inch heels is completely irrelevant to her goal of delivering a totally legitimate, soulful Gospel Hour of inspirational music (and a few dance steps) that could successfully play before the most Christian Conservative audience in the nation and still get a standing ovation. In fact, Rev. Yolanda just came back from performing at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina. That festival is "rooted in the Christian tradition" and "focused on justice, spirituality, music and the arts." Rev. Yolanda, a former Radical Faerie, has found that the most radical impact she can now have is to promote diversity, love and acceptance by being an Ambassador for all who are as unique as she is and yet, still, blessed by God's love and light.
Born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama (The Hit Recording Capital Of The World), Roger always loved Big Hair, inspired by his mother, who went to the same hairdresser as Tammy Wynette. He sang in the choir of a Pentecostal Church and joined his first band, "Stained Glass Bluegrass", when he was only 17 years old. After graduating High School, he escaped Alabama and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida eventually hooking up with some Jesus Freaks, who didn't do drugs but liked Rock & Roll. To obtain admission to Jesus Manor (a Jesus Commune), he went back into the closet. As fate would have it, one of his two roommates, Ronnie, was also gay (they became Sister Friends who both had a crush on the third roommate, who was straight). Ronnie's tragic story ended with his "permanently moving into the Mansion on the Hill." Eventually, Roger went to college, majored in Drama, and at age 28, moved to the East Village, after spending some time living in the Radical Faerie Community in Vermont. It was during that time (1993) that Yolanda was born. Yolanda developed a loyal following in Vermont for her band Yolanda & The Plastic Family. In 2003, Yolanda was awarded OutMusician of the Year and, in 2005, Rev. Roger Anthony "Yolanda" Mapes was inducted into the GLBT Hall of Fame for Activism, Art Excellence & Community Awareness. Yolanda then began a spiritual journey in June, 2011 leading her to One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, where she became Rev. Yolanda, an ordained Interfaith Minister. In September, 2014, a feature film was released regarding her life, Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour: The Movie, (visit www.goyolanda.com for more information about the movie) and in February, 2015, Rev. Yolanda was inducted as a "Great Blues Artist" in the New York Chapter of The Blues Hall of Fame. Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes is a survivor and a success in almost every aspect of her life. She is happily married and sharing the positive energy that comes with adopting the right mental attitude.
Rev. Yolanda is a serious musician with a powerful voice. She offers inspirational advice about the need to love and accept yourself as a "richly endowed Child of God" but recognizes that sometimes you just need "to step back and let God lead the way." The Gospel Hour features both traditional and original Gospel Music. You will recognize songs with lyrics such as "This little light of mine; I'm going to make it shine" and "How Great Thou Art." Then just when you least expect it, you are asked to clap "if you're happy and you know it." Rev. Yolanda is a plus-size performer with a plus-size personality and heart. She plays guitar, wears impressive wigs and delivers a message that can reach even the most hard-hearted heathen. I strongly recommend you spend an hour or more in Yolanda World soon! You will be better for having done so! For more information on Rev. Yolanda and her upcoming shows, visit www.yolanda.net