Perpetual Change Interviews iKE Allen, producer of Rev. Yolanda The Old Time Gospel Hour, The Movie (Part 1)
For the past couple of months, I’ve been mentioning that Rev. Yolanda has a movie coming out. It has been submitted to various film festivals and has finally been made available on-line as well. With all the work that has gone into this project, I thought that it would be interesting to speak with the film’s producer, iKE ALLEN. Along with being a film producer, he is also an author and the creator of the. He is also involved with New Thought, as is Rev. Yolanda. So, it is with great pleasure that Perpetual Change and TGForum presents this interview with the highly creative IKE ALLEN. (Author’s Note: due to length, it will be posted in two installments.)
TGForum: Rev. Yolanda explained the basis of New Thought to me. On your website, you post several articles by independent writers and bloggers. Could the Avaiya Network be considered a self-help, business information network? Would that be accurate?
IKE ALLEN: Avaiya creates content for personal, spiritual and conscious business development.
TGF: Anyone who puts their material out into the public arena eventually attracts critics. How do you answer yours?
IA: If it’s about me as a creator or artist, I generally don’t even reply. If a person attacks someone like Rev. Yolanda for being fully self-expressed, my feathers can get a bit ruffled. I attempt to come from a place of love with my responses but sometimes, my love for the person being attacked outweighs my love for the attacker. I have been known to yell words like “Get your head out of your ass and be nice.” Of course, now I’m just like them.
TGF: Your current project, Rev. Yolanda The Old Time Gospel Hour The Movie is your first release of The Inclusive Project series What exactly do you plan to do with this series? What will the focus be?
IA: My goal is to shine light on elements of society that the majority of us judge without much actual knowledge of what we’re judging. I’ve been looking at topics like “People with tattoos” and “Bikers.” Often, we only see a small part of someone and create a big judgment.
TGF: There was a great line in the movie about when you initially heard about Rev. Yolanda. It was something about country music meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Is that what attracted you to working with Yolanda?
IA: I had wanted to make The Rocky Horror Picture Show of Country Music. One day, we received an email from Yolanda telling us she was what we were looking for. I emailed a video of her to the legendary photographer and creator of the Rev. Yolanda Coffee Table Book, Christina Gressianu and her response was, “Are we going to make a film about her?” When Christiana jumps into a project, I know it’s going to be great. She photographs a lot of LGBT weddings and shoots for OutFront Magazine as well.
TGF: I wasn’t able to find much in the way of background information about you. Where are you from original? Also, what’s your educational background?
IA: I was born in Brattleboro, Vermont. I entered the restaurant business when I was 15 and for much of life, believed that was my lifelong path. I never went to college because I didn’t see a need to. The restaurant business was my university and I learned for over 20 years from a wide swath of humanity.
TGF: What was your initial interest to get into film making? What were your earliest influences?
IA: Like many of us in life, I kind of stumbled into the industry. I was always interested in “Reality” and the idea that our world is a dream. In my mid-thirties, I began looking at modern interpretations on Enlightenment and wanted to meet all these contemporary thinkers. I came up with the idea to create a documentary called Leap! so I cold meet all these thinkers and the first big interview I landed was with Way of The Peaceful Warrior author, Dan Millman. A couple months in, I kept meeting people practicing A Course In Miracles, which Yolanda practices, and it was then that I realized I could make more than one film. Now, almost ten years later, I have quite a few films under my belt.
TGF: What criteria, or spark, or whatever you wish to call it, is there that makes you want to start a film project on or with any given subject?
IA: For me, it’s all Divinely inspired. If an idea or topic doesn’t resonate throughout my being, I pass on it. I think that’s way I’ve done films on Enlightenment, Fast Food, Network Marketing, and Empowered Women. The Universe points me in a direction and I shout “Okay!” Life has worked much easier since I started living this way.
TGF: How many films do you do a year?
IA: That’s a tricky question to answer because we do more than just films. Last year, I created the 45 Days With series of books and we already have 12 titles. We also create audios and courses. For me, a better question might be, Will the sun shine of July 11th,2018? I’m always moving forward on multiple products simultaneously.
For more information on Mr. Allen and his Avaiiya Network, please check out www.avaiya.com. also on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Books by Mr. Allen are available through Amazon.com, as well as his web site.
ALSO THIS MONTH
I’ve been talking about Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour The Movie for quite some time, so here is a very brief review of the film itself. Since I’ve never reviewed a film before, this is new territory for me. I’m more comfortable with reviewing music, but this is about music, so why not give it a shot anyway?
The film was shot at New York City’s The Duplex, which is favorite gig for Rev. Yolanda. Total running time for the film is one hour, 11 minutes and 54 seconds.
There is, of course, a good deal of background material about Yolanda and her husband Glenn that is included in the film. We learn that Glenn came to New York right after 9/11, and it was during a fundraiser for 9/11 victim families that he and Yolanda first met. Glenn is also an ordained minister and there are a few scenes with him that emphasize the sincerity and humor found in their relationship. One funny moment is when Glenn tells the camera that anyone who books Yolanda for an out of town gig will need to have a jar of peanut butter and a jar of mayonnaise on hand to keep her happy.
The songs included in the live set run the gamut from Yolanda originals which are standards for her, such as We Are Angels, forgiveness and Free, to some very old country gospel songs that most of us haven’t heard in a long time. Tunes such as I Come To The Garden, Do Lord, Down By The Riverside, Joy, Joy, Joy, This Little Light Of Mine, and something called The Summer Camp Song, are all performed with a truly traditional sound by an excellent backing band of musicians that never overpower Yolanda’s stage presence. As a reviewer, my personal favorite is Yolanda’s version of Amazing Grace, which she performs with a more bluesy tempo and a few slight lyric changes.
Rev. Yolanda herself has a huge, powerful stage presence. She’s a commanding performer and it’s not just because of the wigs, even though, as she says, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.”
Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour The Movie is a very well done film. It’s not always easy to capture the essence of live music on film, but there’s something about the intimacy of a smaller venue that works. Yolanda and her band always connect with the audience, and that comes across on camera.
While I’ve never had the pleasure to meet Yolanda or see her perform live, this film makes me want to include that experience on my “bucket list” of things I just have to accomplish. And there’s a lot more there than just the music. “It’s about the drag, and it’s not,” Yolanda said. “But the drag is so important…it’s about being authentic. My mission statement is to create music as ministry. Call me Rev. Yolanda whether I’m in a dress or not.”
To see clips of the movie, go to www.GoYolanda.com, and also check out www.yolanda.net for Yolanda’s music, which include a soundtrack for the movie.
Recreational Love by The Bird And The Bee
The Bird and The Bee is a duo comprised of vocalist Inara George and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who also produced the project. Overall, it’s a very quirky type of project that’s heavy on the pop side, but offers the occasional deviation into techno and even just plain weirdness at times.
An example of the “weirdness” is the CD’s opener, Young And Dumb. While it falls into the pop/techno groove that you sort of expect to hear after the first four bars or so, there is a moment of Frank Zappa inspired stuff that makes you pay attention, albeit briefly.
Techno seems to be the mode that The Bird And The Bee favor, but Kurstin does delve into some old school organ sounds on the project’s title cut. They also manage to deliver a very radio friendly moment with the tune Runaway. The outstanding cuts on the project are Jenny, which is the one full-on dance tune, Doctor, light rock/pop, but with the best song hook on the CD.
All in all, Recreational Love is the kind of summer, feel-good collection of songs that get released this time of year. But that’s not a criticism…that’s part of what makes for a good summer.
The Fool by Ryn Weaver
Ryn Weaver’s newest project, The Fool, seems to be a project in which she plays the role of lead vocalist for someone else’s music. While she does have a hand in the writing, she shares all the credits with other song writers and works with more than one producer. Most of the music is programmed, which is becoming standard for a lot of projects, I know, but after a while it kind of all sounds the same. Weaver falls into that area somewhat, but does include several light, almost folk sounding moments.
That having been said, Ryn Weaver does have a very commanding voice. That is evident on her best moment on the project, Free which is light rock, very close to being a dance track. The project’s title cut, The Fool is another of the standout tracks, being a hybrid of techno, light rock and pop.
The project’s single, Octahate is pure pop and has gotten a lot of chart actions as well as download action.
For more information, www.rynweaver.com; also on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram. Ryn Weaver will be on tour through October.