The Jones Family Singers at the
Wisconsin Union Theater
Ambassadors of Gospel
|The Jones Family Singers will be bringing their broad-based repertoire of gospel-
influenced music to the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall on April 29th.
up to talk to Jones after the show.
“She came up and said that she really enjoyed my group,” Jones recalled. “And she was blessed by my particular portion in the group. We just
talked and talked and then I saw her again and we talked and talked. And we started talking. With my wife being musically talented, it all just
fell into place in a very great way. That’s all that she ever loved as well, the gospel music and quartet singing. That’s all that she knew.
And as they began to raise their children, Jones taught them the style and love for gospel as well.
“I said that when my kids got old enough, I would start training them and in that way, I would know they wouldn’t be running off because I had it
under control,” Jones said with a laugh. “It just so happened that that is the way that it started. They were raised on quartet singing. That’s
basically what they knew. And now they get the chance to do it themselves. Even on a professional level, that was no problem.”
And what led from shows around town to performing regionally to performing nationally and then internationally has been a blessing to the
“Performing in Russia was like nothing else we had experienced because many of them did not understand us and we didn’t understand them,”
Jones recalled. “But as I always say, ‘Music is the universal language.’ Somehow, they connected to us through the vibe that came forth from
what we did. And it was beautiful. They received it whole-heartedly. Everywhere we went in Russia, we took tons of pictures and sold quite a
few CDs. It was just the thrill of our lives. We were blessed to go to the Moscow Conservatory. And I got a chance to explain to them what
gospel music was. I had an interpreter and they enjoyed it.”
The Jones Family Singers even made some gospel fans in Juneau, Alaska of all places.
“The people were just so cordial,” Jones recalled. “In fact, the governor came out, he and his wife, and we had a chance to meet them and
fellowship with them for a while. All of the places were fantastic. But I enjoyed Juneau, Alaska more than anything.”
The Jones Family Singers have also created the conditions that allow them to travel and spread their love of gospel. Jones is the founder and
pastor of The Mt. Zion Pentecostal Cathedral of Markham, TX. And his oldest daughter runs one of the largest day care centers in Bay City,
Texas, which allows some of the members of the group to have a “day job” that is flexible enough to allow for them to tour. And Jones also
founded Family-Styled Records.
In Jones view, gospel isn’t just for worshipping at church. It is emotional and energy-charged music that springs from the root that jazz, blues
and R&B springs from as well and their performances sometimes cross over into the other genres.
“I think the thing that makes our music relevant even though when you mention gospel, your jazz festivals or your blues festivals don’t feature
it because they think of the choir in robes with the old songs and the old days,” Jones said. “They think in terms of we are going to get there
and people aren’t going to really relate to it. But when they see what we do and how we do it, it changes the complexion of everything. And they
end up writing like they did at the Southwest Festival, ‘Out of all of the groups playing electric guitar, the Jones Family Singers were the hottest
and the most sought after in the entire festival.’”
“I call our style of music traditional with a contemporary flair, which means that if you want a little gospel blues, we’ve got that,” Jones
continued. “We have a little B.B. King gospel going. If you need a little jazz, we’ve got a little Wynton Marsalis going. If you need some R&B, we
got a little Michael Jackson gospel going because we realize where we are at. That’s more of a cultural setting and not a spiritual setting. A lot
of people don’t go to church. A lot of people have been churched-out. And all they know is the secular music at best. So in order to get their
attention, you’ve got to give them a little something that they know. So we changed the method, but we keep the message the same.”
But just like church, The Jones Family hopes that people will be out of their chairs, uplifted by the music.
“We have movement and we even interact with the audience,” Jones said. “We get out and go and meet the audience right in the middle of the
performance. We make them part of what we do. And so, they really, really enjoy it.”
Most importantly, when people leave the concert, Jones wants them leaving feeling good.
“That’s the wonderful thing about gospel,” Jones reflected. “It is simply good news. And we believe that good news is for all people, not just
the select few or that hidden little group. It’s for the whole world. People are starving for good news that is just around the corner. We believe
that what we have is a viable product that should be shared regardless of ethnicity, where you live or who you are. We all need good news.”
The Jones Family Singers are just that, family. And at the end of the show, they don’t want people to treat them like stars. They want to be
treated like family and get a hug around the neck.
“We are your brothers and sisters just coming home,” Jones said.
By Jonathan Gramling
It seems that Bishop Fred A. Jones, the head of The Jones
Family Singers, appearing at the Wisconsin Union Theater
April 29, has always had a “can do” attitude, even as a
“I’ve known about my musical talent since I was a child,”
Jones said in a phone interview. “My very first album
given to me when I was 12-years-old was Mighty Clouds
of Joy. And I was really infatuated with the lead singer
and knew that I wanted to do that. I kept practicing. I kept
working on it and as a result, I got better and better.”
Jones would eventually play with a number of bands
including The Gospel Messengers of Houston and The
Spirit of Memphis. But Jones became frustrated because
the bands were always coming together and then
“When I was singing with a group, the groups would
come and go,” Jones said. “They would break up for
whatever reason and you would have to start all over.”
During one particular gig in Texas, a young woman came