The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road At The 2012 Essence Music Festival held July 5–8 in New Orleans. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including GRAMMY-winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams and soul singer/songwriter Alex Boyd.
Adams discussed the evolution of the Essence Music Festival, finding her voice as a singer and winning a GRAMMY, among other topics.
"When you win a GRAMMY … you're thinking about you winning. It is amazing," said Adams. "Your peers and folks in the record business are saying, 'This is what we think of you.' And that's why the GRAMMY will always be, to me, the ultimate in what you get as far as a music trophy, because it is the one."
A native of Houston, Adams grew up listening to jazz, classical and gospel artists such as James Cleveland, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Stevie Wonder, and Nancy Wilson. Her debut album, Just As I Am, was released in 1988 and peaked at No. 8 on Billboard's Gospel Albums chart. Throughout the '90s, Adams continued to release albums that peaked in the Top 10 on the Gospel Albums chart, including Through The Storm (1991, No. 8), Save The World (1993, No. 6) and More Than A Melody (1995, No. 4). Adams earned her first GRAMMY in 1999 for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album for Mountain High…Valley Low. She won in the same category in 2001 for The Experience. Adams' most recent GRAMMY wins came in 2005 for Best Gospel Song for "Be Blessed" and in 2006 for Best Gospel Performance for "Victory." Her most recent release is 2011's Becoming, which peaked at No. 3 on the Gospel Albums chart.
Boyd discussed the community of R&B fans, how he chose to pursue a career in music and the biggest moments in his career so far, among other topics.
"I think everybody has something that makes them stand out in one way or another," said Boyd. "I think the sooner in life that you can find out what that is and embrace it and learn how to cultivate it, the happier you're [going to] be in the long run. I think I figured that out pretty early."
Born in Virginia, Boyd attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., where he studied to be a classical vocalist. He subsequently earned a scholarship to attend Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. Boyd subsequently relocated to Los Angeles where he rediscovered his early influences in R&B, pop, jazz, rock, and neo-soul, and began writing songs. Boyd met producer Andy Rose, who helped hone his musical direction, and subsequently landed to a deal with RCA Records. In 2011 Boyd released the single "Light Up Tonight." Boyd's forthcoming debut album, set for release later this year, features the single "I Wish I Knew," which was produced by Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barias (Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan). The album also features "Snap," a song recounting a breakup that Boyd considers the worst mistake of his life, and "Between The Lines," which features guest vocals from Common.