Pastor, Storyteller, and Blues Activist
"Bernice, is a Hale County (Alabama) native. Raised in the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, she moved with her family to Detroit in 1969. She met Robert in 1985. They were married a year later.
She also is a stunning singer, her deep-dish gospel alto perfectly complementing her husband’s voice. They may be heard together on a CD, “The Time of the Preacher: Holy Blues and Spirituals” that covers the ground from The Rev. Gary Davis’ “Oh Glory, How Happy I Am” to Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night.”
Ben Windham is former editorial editor of The Tuscaloosa News and the son of the late great storyteller, Kathryn Windham.
This quote is excerpted from his 2009 article:
"SOUTHERN LIGHTS: Preacher Sees No Conflict With The Blues", Tuscaloosa News, published
October 10, 2009.
To read the entire article:
Robert and Bernice at The National Storytelling Festival
Robert B. Jones has more than twenty years of experience as a performer, musician, storyteller, radio producer/host and music educator. He has opened for and played with some of the finest musicians in the world. Still, Robert considers his greatest honor to be his call to the gospel of ministry.
Jones was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1956. His father was from West Pointe, Mississippi and his mother hailed from Conecuh County, Alabama. Consequently, Robert grew up in Detroit in a very Southern household. Early on Robert Jones fell under the influence of his maternal grandmother’s record collection. He grew up listening to and loving a wide variety of music, especially the blues.
Influenced by legendary bluesman Willie Dixon, Robert developed an educational program called, “Blues For Schools”. This program has literally taken him into classrooms all over the country, and for approximately the next 15 years Robert polished his craft as both as a performer and a music educator.
Bernice Jones is a gifted singer, teacher and motivational speaker. Her voice has been described as “powerful and amazing”. Nationally respected gospel teacher Shirley Smith remarked to Bernice, “Your singing takes me back to my home church!” Blues teacher and vocalist, Jackie Merritt told her, “You have a powerful and inspirational voice. When you sing it makes me cry.” Finally, Blues legend Sparky Rucker has said, “She has an amazing stage presence! She really knows how to work an audience” Bernice Jones’ vocals on the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s inspirational gem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sent chills up my spine, so great were there power.
Robert and Bernice met at Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church, fell in love and were married in October of 1986. Even though they both loved music they didn't combine musical forces until 2004 at a music festival in Lexington, MI.
In 2005, Bernice joined Robert in a stirring performance at Michigan’s Wheatland Music Festival, and in December of 2005 Robert and Bernice performed together to appreciative audiences in Castor and Stamford, England. In 2007 they performed in Wilkesboro, NC at the MerleFest, and in Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada. at their Harvest Music Festival. In 2008, they performed at the Old Songs Festival in upstate New York.
In 2007 Rev. Jones received the Blues Foundation’s prestigious “Keeping The Blues Alive” award, as Educator of the Year. In 2008 Rev. Jones, along with wife, Bernice, and the Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church Choir performed with the legendary Marie Knight in Monroe, MI. Furthermore, in 2008 Rev. Jones gave a number of educational and performance presentations in the United States, Canada and Germany.
In addition to continuing in his duties as pastor of Sweet Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church, 4150 Chene Street, Detroit, MI 48207. Rev. Jones has recently begun started to explore new facets of his art. In 2008 Jones was honored with an invitation to perform at the prestigious National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. Since then he and his wife have performed at a variety of storytelling events including the Cave Run Storytelling Festival, the Lower Brandywine Storytelling Festival, and Selma Alabama’s Tale Tellin’ Festival,.
In 2010 Robert and his wife Bernice issued their first joint recording entitled, “Guitar Evangelists”, and in 2011 the two of them worked together on a workshop that included Spirituals, Prayer and Praise Hymns and Gospel. Also, in 2011 Robert and Bernice Jones were the featured performers at the National Storytelling Festival's "Midnight Cabaret", in Jonesborough, TN.
To See Robert and Bernice in Concert with the Ebony Hillbillies, 2011: CLICK HERE
If you are looking for someone to deliver inspirational songs with power and meaning, but you don't want the "same old thing", please contact us at:
To purchase this recording from Elderly Instruments music store--CLICK HERE
“You have a powerful and inspirational voice. When you sing it makes me cry.” Singer and teacher, Jackie Merritt
"Bernice Jones’ vocals on the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s inspirational gem, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sent chills up my spine, so great were there power." Ann Arbor News