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Artist Of The Week – Terrence Jones
Monday, February 16, 2009

A lot of R&B singers can tell you about the ups and downs of love, but how many can also tell you what it’s like to be in a combat zone in Iraq? Meet Terrence Jones, singer / songwriter / military man. Originally from Fremont, Ohio, Jones has been stationed everywhere from Iraq to Ecuador, and all the while he’s bounced around he’s written and recorded music. Late last year Jones released his debut album, Secret Admirer, and this week I caught up with the R&B crooner to find out more about his musical upbringing, the concept behind his album, and how his time in the military has helped shape him both as a man and as an artist.

Adam Bernard: Start me off with some history. What shaped you into being the man, and the artist, that you are today?
Terrence Jones: Growing up I had it rough. My mother raised me and my two sisters all by herself. I have brother, too, but he moved to Florida when I was really young. My mother did the best she could to raise me and my sisters right and lead us down the right path. We didn’t have a lot of money. I never had the hottest clothes, or the new shoes that most other kids had, but the biggest thing that got to me the most was not having my father around. I never met him and I have no clue what he looks like. I had to teach myself how to become a man. I can remember a situation when I was like ten years old, my mother was dating this guy and he treated her so bad. He was verbally and physically abusive and I can remember having so much hate and anger built up within me. I always felt like he was using her and I was so confused on why she didn’t leave him for the longest time. I always told myself I would never be like him and I was so glad when my mother moved on. Some of the songs covering these situations are on my album, one being called "No More" and the other being my favorite song on the album, “Fly Away.” And with that being said, without even knowing it I was shaping myself.

Adam Bernard: How did you get into R&B and when did you discover you had singing ability?
Terrence Jones: I think living with a bunch of women most of my life got me into the R&B. {laughs} I was always around it and just kinda fell in love with it. My mother used to listen to Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, and Earth, Wind and Fire and my sisters listened to Boyz II Men. Then I would go to my grandmother’s house and she was always singing all kinds of church songs and I would try to sing along with her. I had to be like seven or eight at the time. I can remember I used to sing in front of my grandmother all the time and she used to tell me I had a beautiful voice. She always wanted me to sing to her and begged me to sing at church. I told her to promise me she wouldn’t tell anyone that I sing for her. I always carried this "He-Man" image around, so I couldn’t let anyone know I was soft. {laughs} But after a while I started gettin up on stage at the church. I think I really discovered I had a talent for singing when I joined this five man boy band called IMAJ when I was in the fourth grade. I was just one of the back up singers for a while. I wrote some of the songs and I practiced all day everyday. When I got to seventh grade we started gettin real heavy on the CDs and talent shows and people starting telling me that I could make it as a solo artist. By the ninth grade I was on my own writing and singing and making my own albums. I had a vocal coach in my family named Tonya Tucker. She really made me the singer I am today.

Adam Bernard: All of that work has culminated in the release of your solo debut, Secret Admirer. Tell me all about the album.
Terrence Jones: I know this kinda sounds weird, so brace yourself. A secret admirer is an individual who possesses extreme adoration for another person without disclosing their identity to that person. I flipped that whole statement and made it my own. In my case I’m the secret admirer who possesses extreme adoration for the music industry. I’ve been knockin on its door for a long time, sending gifts, which are my albums, but I’m still anonymous to them.

Adam Bernard: Your life is much more than just music. You’re also in the military. Tell me about the work you do there. Where have you been, what have been some of the more amazing things you’ve seen, and where are you going next?
Terrence Jones: My military career has actually made me the man I am today. My job is very crucial so I am really not at liberty to discuss it, but I've seen some crazy things. I went to Iraq in ‘06. It was pretty wild there. I really had to stay on my toes. There wasn’t a moment that went by that you didn’t hear, or encounter, bombs or gunfire. I've also been to Ecuador. Since the mission in Iraq in ‘06 was so crazy they sent me to Ecuador to kinda unwind. It was so beautiful there. It was perfect because I got to perform at numerous clubs and go interact with the people and get myself out there. Ecuador has some of the most beautiful woman in the world. It was wild how they responded to my music. And since it was so chill I spent a lot of time in the studio. So I got a lot of songs done. I got home from Ecuador in February of ’08 and I’ll be headed back to Iraq in a month or so. I will be working on the next album there.

Adam Bernard: How do you manage to write love songs while you’re in such a combative place?
Terrence Jones: It was definitely hard to write in such a combative area, especially having to be focused on the war. I’d just write whenever I got the chance. I would just be someone else for the day and put myself in a certain situation and write about it. My job in the military is very strict, so we really don’t get that much time to spend with our families, let alone time for me to go around and perform, especially since I leave for another country almost once a year, so relationships and family are very rough topics for most people in my job, especially married men and women. The divorce rate is really high and while in Iraq I witnessed a lot of deteriorating marriages and relationships. I would get permission from the people involved to write about their situations, so even though it was a tough time for them I used it to mold my music. That kept me really busy and by keeping me busy it allowed me to remain calm and collected in Iraq. I never had the chance to sit down and think to myself like, damn, I almost died today. I'd try to think about my family, performing on stage, and what it would be like to sign my name on a recording contract.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/terrencegjones
CDBaby: cdbaby.com/cd/terrencejones


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:37 AM  
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