Reverend Robert Jones
It seems inevitable that Robert Jones was either going to grow up to be a preacher or a blues singer, or both. Born in 1956, Jones and his family joined the great migration from the Southern U.S. to job-rich Detroit, the Motor City, where he grew up listening to his grandma’s blues LPs and 78s and to the songs he heard from the neighbours. By 17, Jones had amassed a massive blues record collection and taught himself guitar and harmonica.
Parallel to the music, Jones was deeply committed to his church, so much so that he became an ordained minister. Apparently there was a time when he felt being a minister and a musician conflicted, but he decided this kind of music could be a tool of his ministry. He embraced the cultural, historical and educational aspects of blues, standing on the shoulders of gospel blues greats such as Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, and Joshua White. For over two decades he taught the blues to school kids, hosted a public radio show, toured the world and preached the gospel at the Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church. In fact, for seven years he put away his travelling shoes and became a full-time preacher. The reverend is back on the road and when he comes to town, you can expect to hear some soulful music with deep roots in the soulful history of African American music. Can I get an “Amen”?