MAC Award Winner Rev. Yolanda Appears at Outright VT's Silver Celebration
2014 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabaret Artists) Award winner Rev. Yolanda appeared at Outright Vermont's 25th Anniversary Silver Celebration on April 11th in Williston, Vermont. New York audiences recognize Yolanda from her cabaret show, REV. YOLANDA'S OLD TIME GOSPEL HOUR, while Vermonters may know her from the public access television show she co-hosted with Cherie Tartt from the mid-'90s through 2001, or from her band, Yolanda & the Plastic Family.
Outright Vermont's celebration featured a lineup of speakers and entertainers who shared messages of hope, inspiration, and optimism. Emceed by musician, DJ, and radio personality Craig Mitchell, the evening included remarks by comedienne Josie Leavitt, Vermont Representative Bill Lippert, and activist DJ Lu.
Rev. Yolanda's appearance capped off the evening. In a set of live songs sprinkled with patter and interaction with the audience, Yolanda radiated joy and humor. Her rich, grounded voice was perfectly suited for her song choices, one of which ("We Are Angels") she sings in her New York shows. (Scroll down for a video excerpt.)
After her performance, Yolanda shared some thoughts about Outright Vermont:
"I couldn't be more proud of Outright Vermont and the amazing work they do. When I lived in Vermont, I found myself cultivating new territory for gender variant people and the youth of Vermont took notice and began to feel empowered. Through the love and support of Outright Vermont and many other wonderful LGBTQI community organizations in Vermont we all built a solid, loving community that supports its youth. My roommate Chris Mose and I started the Winter Is A Drag Ball that now is celebrating its 20th year. When I visit Vermont now, I see gender variant folks visible and proud in the community at large and I feel so happy about that. 25 years ago a group of folks had a thought that young LGBTQI people deserved love and support in their own community.. and here we are 25 years later with a lot of healthy happy young people. Our thoughts are powerful. God bless Outright Vermont."
REV. YOLANDA'S OLD TIME GOSPEL HOUR, with music direction and backup vocals by Kenneth Gartman, returns to the Manhattan's Duplex Cabaret Theatre on April 20, 2014 at 6:30pm. On the experience of working on Yolanda's show and what audience members can expect to see, Gartman said,
"Creating the gospel hour with Yolanda has been a real joy for me. I get to tap into my good ol' Southern Baptist upbringing while creating a show that is filled with love and acceptance for all. We worked hard to create a show that has an authentic southern gospel feel to it while still being inclusive and respectful of the various spiritual paths that exist. Whether you are gay or straight, Christian or Jewish, I believe that you'll find the message of Rev. Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour to be uplifting and life-affirming. We took some classic songs and modified the lyrics a bit so that they aligned with Rev. Yolanda's spiritual ideals. It was challenging finding old gospel tunes that weren't divisive in the text. It was very important to us that all who attend the gospel hour feel respected. The show is about love and joy. Peace. Acceptance. The fact that Rev. Yolanda is a preacher man in a dress isn't a novelty act. Rev. Yolanda is a man who enjoys dressing as a woman especially to entertain, uplift, and inspire others. The show is filled with laughter but not as a means of making fun of anyone. I find it unimaginable that anyone could come to the gospel hour and not leave in a better place than when they arrived. It's a truly inspiring show that I feel blessed to be a part of! I am thrilled that the show has won a MAC Award and been made into a documentary film. The world needs more shows like the gospel hour and more pioneers like Rev. Yolanda who dare to be outrageous and still know and claim their oneness with God, love, and all that is. What a powerful journey!"
More information about Rev. Yolanda at www.yolanda.net.
Photo inset: Rev. Yolanda with Outright Vermont staff, L-R: Director of Programs, Micah Barritt; Executive Director, Melissa Murray; Director of Marketing & Events, Howie Le.
About Outright Vermont:
Outright Vermont was founded in 1989 following the release of a 1988 national youth risk survey showing that gay and lesbian youth in particular had very high rates of depression and suicide. A group of community activists gathered to form Outright, which began as a "once a week" support group. Outright Vermont's Friday Night support group has continued ever since, every Friday over the past 20 years. Today, Outright is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) 'queer' youth center and statewide advocacy organization.
BroadwayWorld youth readers may be particularly interested in Camp Outright, which boasts a variety of arts-related activities, as well as this summer's FlynnArts Queer Youth Theater Camp, held at Outright Vermont and the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts.
More information about Outright Vermont at www.outrightvt.org.
Photo credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy