REV. ROBERT JONES, SR.
ABOUT REV. ROBERT B. JONES, SR.
Storyteller, Preacher, Musician, Writer, Educator and Speaker
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. is a renaissance man. He has been a professional musician for more than forty years. The legendary blues man, Willie Dixon encouraged him to bring his music into schools over 35 years ago. In fact, The National Blues Foundation recognized his work as a leading blues educator in 2007. He has been a Pastor for more than 20 years, and he has been a nationally recognized storyteller for more than fifteen years. All of those experiences have allowed him work in a variety of ways and to apply his speaking and musical skills to educate, entertain, and inspire. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity tells a story that should celebrate, not just tolerate.
Rev. Robert Jones makes his home in Detroit, Michigan but he performs throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. An award-winning multi-instrumentalist, he is accomplished on guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and ukulele. He has recorded six albums of original and tradition songs. Robert is the former host of the award-winning radio programs “Blues from the Lowlands” (https://wdet.org/2019/12/10/Robert-Jones-Is-on-a-Mission-to-Keep-the-Blues-Alive-in-Detroit/) and “Deep River” broadcast on Detroit Public Radio’s WDET-FM Detroit. He has taught music history courses at Wayne State University in Detroit, and he serves as a member of the affiliate faculty at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. Jones has taught and performed for a number of folk music organizations including the Ashokan Center, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Fiddle Hell, the Houston Folklore Society and more. In recent years Robert wrote, performed and recorded a one man show entitled “An Evening With Lead Belly”, and in recent years Robert has been a featured artist at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum (Springfield, IL), Rutherford B. Hayes Library (Fremont, OH) and Gerald R. Ford Library (Grand Rapids, MI). Robert is also a frequent performer and presenter for The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (Dearborn, MI). In 2018 Robert received a Kresge Arts Fellowship for Music Composition and Performance.
As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, he has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American roots music. He has been a keynote speaker at such institutions as Elkins Davis College (Elkins, WV), Southfield Public Schools, (Southfield, MI), and the Midwest Folk Alliance, (Grand Rapids, MI). He is also a nationally recognized storyteller. His work has been featured at the National Storytelling Festival (Jonesborough,TN), Timpanogos Storytelling Festival (Lehi, UT), the Ojai Storytelling Festival, (Ojai, CA), Azalea Storytelling Festival (La Grange, GA), Cave Run Storytelling Festival (Morehead, KY) and more.
In addition to his solo performances, he often collaborates musically with his wife, Sister Bernice Jones and family, an ensemble called the "The Jones Trio". Jones also works with his friend Matt Watroba. In 2017 Robert and Matt co-founded “Common Chords”, 501.c3 educational organization designed to create community, cultural and historical connections through music and the arts. He also teaches traditional instrumental music online at truefire.com. It was for Truefire that Robert wrote and produced 30 YouTube segments on traditional blues artists, entitled “Blues Chronicles”. He has also developed a number of special presentations including a musical survey of early African American music called, “Before The Blues”, and a multi-part musical lecture entitled, “The Secret Life of Black Music”. Robert is also currently working on the final stages of his book, “Roots & Branches, The Spiritual Evolution Of A Detroit Blues Singing Preacher”.
The late legendary Detroit Free Press columnist, Bob Talbert wrote about Robert: “Perhaps the world’s most highly educated blues musician, an ordained minister, a longtime DJ, and a living encyclopedia of blues history, the Reverend Robert Jones is comfortable among juke joint loud talkers, fancy-hatted church ladies, and PhDs alike."