Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes, Rev. Yolanda's Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 1: God Is | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes, Rev. Yolanda’s Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 1: God Is 

Album Review

music-reviews-rev.-yolanda.jpg

(Mighty Companions Ministries Productions, CD, digital download)

On his latest release, Rev. Yolanda’s Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 1: God Is, former Vermont drag queen and current NYC resident Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes finds religion — though it is unlikely to resemble what most of us think of when we consider the church. The album is based on the teachings of A Course in Miracles, a nondenominational spiritual guidebook developed in the 1970s. While it has roots in Christian principles, ACIM is more a philosophy than a religion. Appropriately, the gospel according to Yolanda is less one of fire and brimstone than of love, acceptance and affirmation that proves, yes, indeedy, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Mapes’ sermon opens on the bluesy gospel ballad, “Love and Light.” Over tinny electric piano and drums, he puts forth what will serve as the fundamental tenet of God Is: God is love. (And light.) It is affirmation — or indoctrination — by repetition. And while not exactly a revelation, his impassioned, overtly stylized baritone is believable enough to suggest he’s doing more than preaching to the choir.

Mapes brings it down on the next few tracks, including “Love Divine” and “Sweet Sweet Spirit,” the latter of which begins with a swirl of chimes and features a duet with fellow ACIM minister Rev. Chanda Rule.

The middle of the album finds Mapes mulling more abstract philosophical notions. Cuts such as the worldly, beat-centric “Free Your Mind,” the sitar-laden “You are an Idea,” and the pedal-steel-laced twang of “We Are Angels” are rooted less in blind religious faith than the discovery of inner peace through self-love. The gist, as laid out in the album’s final, genre-mashing act, seems to be that God isn’t some all-knowing greater entity but rather an internal conviction. Find yourself, and you’ll find God.

On his 2010 debut album as Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes, House of Joy, Mapes celebrated the intertwining of his previously separate personae: the drag queen, Yolanda, and the gay man, Roger Mapes. After years of duality, it was a declaration of a unified identity. On God Is, Mapes takes that notion a step further to include his faith. It is a queer sort of holy trinity — pun partially intended — but one that speaks to the questions of identity each of us faces, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or sexuality. Amen.

Rev. Yolanda’s Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 1: God Is is available at yolanda.net. Mapes performs at the Winter Is a Drag Ball at the Higher Ground Ballroom in South Burlington this Saturday, February 16.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Bio:
Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox... more

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation