Yolanda

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Interviews , Music

yolanda, Lisa Jackson, Brie Austin

The Alien Love Child

In 1982 a young hippie musician named Roger Anthony Mapes came to NYC from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Armed with a recording contract [with the Chrysalis Records label] he energy was racing and his spirits high.

Twelve years later, burned out and tired, with no artistic or personal direction, he retreated to Vermont to join the Radical Fairies — an organic organization that celebrates god/goddess and mother of Earth. It was there, in a communal lifestyle that Yolanda was born. In his own words, “I found a power in the expression.”

Never wanting to be a boy or a girl, he says, “I found a sense of balance and a renewed spirit. And then, the songs just flowed from me.” A rejuvenated Yolanda, with a new direction and purpose, returned to New York City seven years after he left. The single “Angels,” first released in 1998, brought attention and praise. Billboard magazine gushed, saying, this could be “one of the strongest ac/pop (acoustic pop) compositions offered in months.”

I’ve known Yolanda for several years now, and we sat down one afternoon during the summer to talk about his past, his present and his future. To say his stage persona is outrageous is an understatement. And, that’s just the way he likes it.  “My outfits are certainly shocking, but they’re also a statement which says, take me as you will because I won’t fit in any box you choose to build for me. It seems that people always perceive you as something. I sometimes wonder, are they afraid of diversity?”

At first glance people don’t seem to get what he was about. Then he opens his mouth to sing and his words and music speaks volumes. When he sings, “we are angels – struggling to be human,” you begin to get a glimpse of the light that emanates from within him. “It was the lesbians that accepted me first,” he said, “and then, after I sang, people would say, oh, O.K., now I get it”

Being the OUTMUSIC “2003 Musician of The Year,” overwhelmed him. “I’m blown away by the talent in our community, artists like; Lisa Jackson, Justin Tranter, Allison Tartallia, Dutchboy, Robert Urban, Jamie Anderson, and so many more. I was so honored. This award let me know that with all my faults, that indeed my light does shine.”

On stage and off, Yolanda’s light is always on, and his efforts are tireless. Whether working on GLBT fundraisers for NYAGRA (NY Assoc. Gender Rights Advocacy), the NY GLBT Center, and countless others, or giving a hand to friend in need, he continually provides a positive impact to the people around him. “I feel like this award, which I prefer to say that I received vs. I won, is the community saying thank you for your time and effort – what you do matters. Which makes me feel great, because I so genuinely love this community.”

The immediate future is focused on his new album, expected later this year, which returns to his folk/blues and rock background, and includes participation from Robert Urban. He is also co-hosting QNITY, a new periodic concert series celebrating the rainbow of talent and diversity in Queer communities (GLBT). Together with Freddie Freeman he hosts the event at CBGBs Lounge (313 Bowery NYC) and hopes it will catch on. So do I, because it is one of the few places where people can come together in a laid back relaxing atmosphere and actually enjoy some music, sit and talk with each other, and meet new people. It’s a sort of a coffee house environment with liquor instead of coffee.

With all this activity you may wonder when the boy, or girl, take your pick, has time for love? “I don’t,” he chuckles. “I need a break anyway. I seem to always end up playing mommy, you know, the nurturer. I would love to adopt a child one day, and that’s when I want to nurture, not now. So, the next partner I have will need to be independent and capable on his own. If you fit that mold, by all means give me a call.”

Yolanda has been labeled in many ways: drag queen, Radical Fairy, singer, songwriter, activist, and performance artist, to name just a few. He is a talent to be sure, but also the product of the mother Earth that he cherishes so dearly. He is a creative spirit who nurtures our soul with rain showers of unconditional love. And though he may sing, “I’m an alien love child,” (which may be true), we are truly blessed to have Yolanda here as a beautiful spirit on Earth. If people can learn one thing from him, it’s to just take people as they are, and love them for their wonderful diversity.

More Info: https://www.yolanda.net

(PUBLISHED in Girl Talk Magazine 2003)

Copyright 2003 – All Rights Reserved

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About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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