Texas Gospel Group Shines in New Film at SXSW
The Jones Family Singers is made up in part of five sisters, two brothers and their father. The gospel music band is based in Bay City, Texas – outside of Houston.
For the last several decades, the Jones Family Singers have been touring churches and winning singing competitions. But it wasn’t until recently that the group started getting some real attention.
That’s thanks in major part to music critic Michael Corcoran. Austin-based Arts and Labor produced an album last year. And now, their story is being told in a film getting its world premiere at South by Southwest: The Jones Family Will Make a Way.
Bishop Fred A. Jones, Sr. Th.D. is the patriarch of the group.
On expecting success:
“We knew that we had a talent that needed to be exposed and shared with the world and we were satisfied at one time in the local area until God would expand our territory.”
On criticism for performing outside of church:
“We got quite a bit of it. Criticism like, ‘What is wrong with you? You take your family to a club or out in a festival – that’s not church, that’s the devil’s territory.’ I told them, I said, ‘Well, I’ve been reading the wrong book then because the book I read said go ye therefore into all the world’ – and my definition of all is all means all and that’s all that all means.”
On being called the ‘perfect gospel band for atheists:’
“I heard that. And I applaud that. I love that. That’s one of the reasons we’re out here.”
Alan Berg directed The Jones Family Will Make a Way.
On why he decided to make this film:
“The music. I was asked by Michael Corcoran – who is about as rock n’ roll a journalist as I’ve ever met – and he called me three years ago and said, ‘Hey, there’s this gospel band performing at South by, do you have anybody that could tape them because I think they’re really cool?’ And so, we went out and we taped them. I didn’t really know what to expect. And they came out and performed and it just sort of blew me away. And so we went down and started taping more in Bay City and one thing leads to another and, eventually, we have a film.”
On the challenge of making this film:
“Everybody that works with the Jones Family for any length of time they get, as the Bishop would say, ‘raptured in.’ You start feeling and seeing how special they are and you want to convey that. It’s a heavy burden. I don’t know if we’ve hit it or not – but the film is coming out!”