There’s no way that The Passion, the live TV musical that aired Sunday night (March 20) on FOX, would have been complete without gospel — and fittingly, executive producer and music arranger Adam Anders brought in one of the genre’s biggest names, Yolanda Adams, to open up the show.
Adams, who spoke to Billboard while she was on set waiting to close out the show with a powerhouse rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In” with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, believes that The Passion will be the first faith-based TV special of many. “Now that it’s so popular, I believe that we should be able to do more of these: real stories that come from the Bible, that are interesting,” she tells Billboard. “I’m sure now that we can do all types of faith-based stories, if we bring them to 2016 or 2017 or 2018 — I’m claiming 20 years of it,” she concluded, laughing.
Read on for more from Adams’ conversation with Billboard (and find out who designed her jaw-dropping gown).
How did you first get involved with The Passion?
Tyler [Perry] and Adam [Anders] called. and said they needed an opener and a closer. I was like, “OK, thank y’all so much for thinking of me.” Tyler is a great friend of mine — I’ve known him since he was a teenager. Adam, I’ve known his wife — they’ve been inspirational artists for a while, so I’ve known his work.
What did you think at first of the idea of retelling this story with secular music?
It’s not just secular music — it’s also Michael W. Smith tunes, “When The Saints Go Marching In.” It’s really relevant right now. It speaks to today, with the 2,000+ year message of the saving grace of Christ, so I thought it was awesome.
No, not at all! The actual lyrics of the song can mean God, or your husband! For me, it was just like, this is really cool.
The dress you were wearing for the opening number was stunning — who designed it?
I have to thank Ms. Kimora Lee Simmons for my dresses for the whole Passion. She’s a dear friend, and she makes stunning clothes. Newly married, new baby — we’re really proud of her. They said they wanted an eye-catcher, so this is what we brought.
What was the energy like for that first song?
It was electric, it was inspiring, it was encouraging. You could hardly hear the music because people were screaming so loud. It was amazing.
For you, what’s the significance of holding it in New Orleans?
I think it’s the best place, because New Orleans has had so much turmoil within the last 15-20 years. You think of Jerusalem, you think of Galilee, you think of all the places from that time, there was a lot of political and economic turmoil going on. New Orleans was the prime place to do The Passion.
You have a lot more experience doing live TV than many of the people in the cast, right?
I mean I think myself, Michael W. Smith, Trisha Yearwood, and Tyler — we probably have more experience than the other young people who are participating. First of all, the energy around each performance and each song, the love that every cast member has for one another, it’s infectious. That’s one of the things that kind of coordinates everyone. We’ve been rehearsing for a week, and just encouraging one another, loving one another it’s really been awesome.
Do you see yourself including “When Love Takes Over” in your repertoire going forward?
I probably will, because I recorded it! It’s in infamy now [laughs].
Disclosure: Billboard is an affiliate company of one of The Passion‘s co-producers, Dick Clark Productions.