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Bobby Jones

Gospel vocalist and television host Bobby Jones was born on September 18, 1938 in Henry County, Tennessee. He excelled academically, graduating from high school at age fifteen and Tennessee State University at age nineteen, where he received his B.S. degree in elementary education. Jones went on to receive his M.Ed. degree from Tennessee State University and his Ed.D. degree from Vanderbilt University. He also graduated from Payne’s Theological Seminary with his Th.D. degree.

Jones taught elementary students in the St. Louis Public Schools from 1959 to 1965, and Nashville Metropolitan Schools from 1966 to 1968. He then became a textbook consultant for McGraw Hill Publishers and worked as an instructor at Tennessee State University from 1974 to 1986. As a teacher, Jones helped develop the idea for a Black Expo in Nashville, Tennessee. During that effort, he introduced the pilot for what became “Bobby Jones Gospel” to WSM-TV in Nashville. WSM-TV picked up the show and it ran in Nashville from 1976 to 1980. Jones also created, produced and hosted “Bobby Jones’ World,” a magazine-style show that ran from 1978 to 1984.

In 1980, Black Entertainment Television premie`red “Bobby Jones Gospel,” the longest continuously running original series on cable television, where Jones serves as host and executive producer. Jones then produced the show “Video Gospel,” which premiered on BET in 1986. He went on to produce and host a number of other shows, including The Word Television Network’s "Bobby Jones Gospel Classics" and "Bobby Jones Presents,” the BET Gospel Network’s "Let's Talk Church,” and The Gospel Channel’s “Gospel Vignettes” and “Bobby Jones Next Generation”. He has also hosted “The Bobby Jones Radio Show” and “The Bobby Jones Gospel Countdown,” which have aired on The Sheridan Gospel Radio Network. Jones has toured with the musical group, New Life; he oversees The Nashville Super Choir; and, for twenty-four years, was host of “The Dr. Bobby Jones International Gospel Industry Retreat.” He has opened his own production studio in Nashville, and is an instructor at Nova Southeastern University.

Jones’ discography includes "Sooner or Later" (1978), "There's Hope for This World" (1979), "Caught Up" (1980), "Soul Set Free" (1982), "Come Together" (1984), "Tin Gladje" (1985), "I'll Never Forget" (1989), "Another Time" (1990), "Bring It To Jesus" (1995), "Just Churchin" (1998), "Live In Perusia, Italy” (2004), “Faith Unscripted” (2007), and “The Ambassador” (2007). He has authored two books: 1998’s Touched By God, and the 2000 memoir, Make A Joyful Noise, My Twenty Five Years In Gospel Music.

In 1980, Jones received the Gabriel Award and an International Film Festival Award for writing and performing Make A Joyful Noise, a black gospel opera which aired on PBS. In 1984, he won a Grammy Award for the Best Soul Gospel Performance By A Duo Or Group with Barbara Mandrell for "I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today." Jones has also received a Dove Award, three Stellar Awards, three Trumpet Awards, and a presidential commendation from President George W. Bush.

Bobby Jones was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 24, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.109

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/24/2014

Last Name

Jones

Maker Category
Middle Name

Louis

Schools

Caton School

Central High School

Tennessee State University

Vanderbilt University

First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Henry

HM ID

JON37

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Amen Goes Right There.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

9/18/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Gospel singer and television host Bobby Jones (1938 - ) was the Grammy Award-winning host and executive producer of BET’s “Bobby Jones Gospel,” the longest continuously running original series on cable television. He was also the author of two books: Touched By God and Make A Joyful Noise.

Employment

St. Louis Public Schools

Nashville Metropolitan Schools

McGraw Hill Education

Tennessee State University

WSMV-TV

WDCN-TV

Black Entertainment Television

The Word Television Network

BET Gospel Network

The Gospel Channel

Sheridan Gospel Radio Network

Nova Southeastern University

Favorite Color

Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bobby Jones' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bobby Jones talks about the prevalence of alcoholism in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bobby Jones lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bobby Jones describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bobby Jones describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones recalls his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones remembers the Caton School in Henry County, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones remembers listening to the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones describes his experiences at the Caton School in Henry County, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones describes his early interest in gospel music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bobby Jones describes his schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bobby Jones recalls his parents' separation

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bobby Jones describes his experiences at Central High School in Paris, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bobby Jones describes his experiences at Central High School in Paris, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Bobby Jones recalls his decision to attend Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bobby Jones describes his experiences at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones remembers teaching at Farragut Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones talks about his return to Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones describes his position at McGraw-Hill Education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones talks about the founding of the Nashville Black Expo and Music Fest

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones remembers his experiences of being robbed

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bobby Jones describes his reasons for leaving the Nashville Black Expo and Music Fest

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bobby Jones talks about his early television programs

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bobby Jones recalls how he came to the attention of Robert L. Johnson at BET

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones talks about the creation of 'Bobby Jones Gospel'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones talks about his gospel records

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones describes his productions at BET

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones talks about the distribution of his television shows

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones remembers the guest performers on 'Bobby Jones Gospel'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bobby Jones describes the genres of gospel music on 'Bobby Jones Gospel'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bobby Jones remembers winning the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones talks about the perception of gospel music

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones talks about his mentors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones talks about his gospel music influences

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones describes the history of gospel music

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones talks about his favorite musical artists

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bobby Jones describes his books

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bobby Jones talks about the rise of megachurches

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bobby Jones describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bobby Jones reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bobby Jones talks about the production costs of 'Bobby Jones Gospel'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bobby Jones talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bobby Jones describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Bobby Jones talks about the creation of 'Bobby Jones Gospel'
Bobby Jones remembers his experiences of being robbed
Transcript
Here we are, I think 'Make a Joyful Noise' reminded me of other movies and shorts that were made by white people who discover a genre, like they discovered the blues, and then there would come blues films. And they made a film, 'Louie Bluie,' by a blues musician [HistoryMaker Howard Armstrong] in Chicago [Illinois], and some other films, you know. But music is largely segregated in the country.$$Uh-huh.$$And white people are just not going to know the gospel, I mean, and the black singers of many genres, except for the ones that reach the Top 40.$$Right.$$You know--$$Right.$$So, gospel is being discovered here on some level, and these guys are the ones who introduced it to Bob Johnson [Robert L. Johnson].$$Yes, that's exactly how it happened. They took that show. Wyatt is his last name, W-Y-A-T-T. And they're in New York [New York] now, he and his wife. And she was good in producing this show, 'Make a Joyful Noise.' And so, they're the ones that met Bob Johnson, and that's how I got the Gabriel Award and all of that, with 'Make a Joyful Noise,' from the PPS show [Public Broadcasting Service]. Okay, and Joe [ph.], the guy who was really over that at this WDCN station [WDCN-TN; WNPT-TV, Nashville, Tennessee], hired me from Channel 4 [WSM-TV; WSMV-TV, Nashville, Tennessee] to also host the show over there at the PBS station. So, I had two things going. I had the show at PBS ['Bobby Jones World'], teaching at Tennessee State University [Nashville, Tennessee], and I had the Bobby Jones--'Nashville Gospel' at the time. And so, they wanted to go--I was, I just took over the producer's role at the 'Nashville Gospel Show.' And they thought I was too overbearing. They didn't, they didn't--you know, the input--their input was not the same level as mine was, because I had more experience than they did. And they didn't know how to produce, and I did, you know. So, while I was in Italy with this 'Make a Joyful Noise' thing, they met with the station managers. And they wanted to have a meeting with me when I came back, to discuss the fact that they should have the same role. And I said no, and my attorney said no. And so, then we end up splitting. So, they kept the name, 'Nashville Gospel.' By this time, then I called mine 'Bobby Jones Gospel' (laughter). And how they (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They took your role--$$Yeah, they really kind of pushed me out, you know. And so, my energy in the city was strong enough where they couldn't get rid of me, you know. All the community leaders came to my defense, and went to Channel 4 and told them, "Oh, you need to keep him, you know. This is our," whatever and whatever. So, we, you know, we had a little fight about that. And so, so, I said, "Okay, I'm going to do my own show." And then I--$$So--$$--and so, I thought about Johnny Carson and all these white guys that had TV shows with their names. I said, "Oh, I'm going to call it 'Bobby Jones.'" (Laughter) That's simply how it came about. And I asked my godmother, a little church lady, you know, who took care of me--and I said, "What do you think if I called it 'Bobby Jones,' like Johnny Carson and them do?" And she was like, "Okay." And that's where it came from. And so, I began to produce my own shows at Channel 4, and you could see clearly the distinction between the two. They kept their show; the same network had two shows, mine and theirs (laughter). And the regular community churches supported them, because they had a big newspaper article about I didn't want white people on, and I didn't want local people on--just stuff they made up, you know, to put on the show. And so, the community went with them, basically, but they knew the difference. So, then I began to really, really do it, you know, really do a good show. I brought in, you know, good talent and organized it, and was able to conduct it as a national show. And then that's what Bob Johnson saw, he saw one of those shows, after the breakup of me and the 'Nashville' people.$$Okay, okay. All right, so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm. And then, then it started in 1980.$Because we had one affair in my home where we had, we had a couple of celebrities here, and we were robbed in my home during one of my parties (laughter). (Unclear) was there.$$Now, this is, now--oh, I didn't, I didn't ask you about the St. Louis [Missouri]--about the robbery. Now, you were robbed in St. Louis, you said?$$I was, yes.$$Yeah. Was this like a street robbery, or what?$$Yeah. I was driving down the street, and stopped at the red light. And this guy jumped in my car and put a knife to my neck, and told me to drive. And I drove (laughter). And he says, "I want your money." And I said, "I don't have any." And I really didn't. And I'm thinking, while he's telling me to drive, "Go down this street," you know, and, "go back down towards--," it was going downtown. And we stopped at another light, and I saw a cop's car parked across the street. And I said, he's got a knife, and I don't know what he'll do to me when we get where we're going. I opened my car door, and out I jumped. And across the street I went running, "Police, police, police." (Laughter) And this guy jumped out of the car, you know, on the other side, and he fled. And the police saw him, and they ran after him. So, the police never did get a--because once he was gone, my car was still sitting in the middle of the street, and cars were passing. So, I ran and jumped in my car, and back to my apartment (laughter) I went. I'm laughing now, but it wasn't funny then, because I was going to get hurt, I'm pretty sure, because they were vicious.$$So, somebody actually came into your house during a party and robbed--?$$No, this was in Nashville [Tennessee].$$Yeah, in Nashville, yeah.$$Oh, yeah. Three, four, I think it was four guys that robbed us. All of the Black Expo committee [Nashville Black Expo and Music Fest] was there, with our guests, you know. And it was a very, very high social event, it wasn't ragged at all. And the kind of people that were there were leaders in the community. And it was by mistake they came. They were, I think they were looking for an after hour joint. But they saw all these cars. And one girl was going out, and they was asking, "Well, what, who's, who lives there? What's going on there?" "Oh, we're having a party," blah, blah, blah. "Having a party?" (Laughter) And they came and they--with their guns and things, and that's--$$So, they seized an opportunity to (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah.$$--you know--$$To get some--$$--when they saw a lot of wealthy people--$$They thought, yeah.