A popular gospel television program host and executive producer offers short personal anecdotes in this slim, insubstantial autobiography.
Born in 1938 to a poor family in backwoods Kentucky, Jones managed to survive and even flourish under his grandmother’s love and guidance, through his thirst for education, and with his growing passion for music—especially gospel music. After studying at Tennessee State University, he became a teacher, worked for McGraw-Hill, helped develop the first Black Expo (an event to increase black culture), and organized church-music concerts. He became involved in successful television productions, even while he completed his doctorate at Vanderbilt University. Through the years, Jones met, influenced, and was influenced by many famous personalities, from Barbara Mandrell to Albertina Walker to Aretha Franklin to nonmusical figures such as Louis Farrakhan. Unfortunately, however, Jones doesn’t go beyond his own private experiences and personal thoughts, and his story quickly becomes little more than one name-dropping anecdote after another. While his music obviously pervades his life, he offers little here to enlighten readers about the industry. Only a few stories revolve around historically significant events, and the reader is left wishing for more since they give insight to Jones and his times: for example, after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Jones was arrested in St. Louis merely because he was a black man on the street after a city-imposed curfew. Jones is to be admired for his faith, perseverance, and achievements, but this autobiography is ultimately only a quick and sweet overview of his life, recapping his successes and awards and his relationships with stars and friends.
As a memoirist, Jones is preaching to the choir: although fans will enjoy his account, he’s unlikely to win many new ones.