Is History Repeating Itself? Yolanda Weighs In on Kanye West’s Pop-Up Church

Kanye West’s weekly Sunday service is showing no signs of slowing down, and as the rapper plows ahead with the spiritual event, which recently made its way to his hometown of Chicago, he has the support of gospel star Yolanda Adams behind him.

Adams spoke exclusively to Atlanta Black Star on the red carpet for the Black Music Honors Sept. 5. She explained why West’s foray into the church via his upcoming gospel album as a mainstream rapper is nothing new. Adams dished on the shoe being on the other foot when compared against the history of gospel artists of the 1900s stepping into mainstream genres.

“As long as the message of hope, inspiration and encouragement is coming out, it’s not any different than what happened in Mahalia’s day,” the “Be Blessed” singer says. “Mahalia Jackson was a gospel artist, but she did the Newport Jazz Festival … she was everywhere with Louie Armstrong. She was one of his favorite singers in the whole world. She never did veer away from her message, but she was everywhere.

“It’s not like me and Kirk [Franklin] and Mary Mary started this,” Adams continues. “James Cleveland, Andraé Crouch, The Hawkins Family, they were all going to Woodstock way back in the day. Coachella is a mimic of Woodstock, so everything just happens in cycles, and this just happens to be a cycle where people are recognizing we need some hope, we need some God right now.”

With that in mind, Adams says West and anyone else who wants to spread the message of a bigger plan and higher power has her backing.

“I applaud Kanye, I applaud anybody who is trying to get people to latch on to something bigger than themselves,” she tells ABS.

West first ventured into gospel by launching his weekly pop-up church deemed Sunday service, which debuted at Coachella this spring but has continued weekly ever since. Recently, it was reported that the Chicago MC is readying the release of his debut gospel record, “Jesus Is King,” according to a tracklist Ye’s wife Kim Kardashian tweeted on August 29. The LP is due for release on Sept. 27.

And by the looks of it, Ye’s album will have backing from folks within the gospel industry, as Adams is only the latest gospel act to back West in his continued venture. In April, Kirk Franklin and Erica Campbell hailed the “Life of Pablo” performer for welcoming God into his career.

“Let them start where they start and let God do the work,” Campbell said of West and other secular artists venturing into her home music space. “You can’t sing about Jesus too long without him changing you. … Let ’em all do records! [Lady] Gaga, all y’all! Katy PerryNicki Minaj — do a gospel records! Keep singing about Jesus, because when you call him, he answers.”

Franklin explained he’s “excited for any human being that is finding the medicine that lies within the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He added it’s “the healing balm” that’s good for all “so it’s good for Kanye.”

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