Smooth tunes

Wed, 04/25/2007 - 8:55am
By: Emily Baldwin

Local musician releases third album

Local musician releases third album

Lionel Jones Jr. has seen the world, but it’s Fayetteville, Ga. that he calls home. Jones, 47, was brought up as a military brat. Born in Verdun, France, he has called Maryland, Hawaii, Virginia, and Arizona home, just to name a few.

His travels and experiences assimilating into various cultures has aided Jones in his career as a musician, vocalist and teacher. “Being around all those different cultures I think it cultivated me,” said Jones.

Jones began his formal music training while in junior high school in Hawaii. He learned to play the snare drum, and continued his training in percussion while participating in his high school’s drum line. After high school, Jones continued to pursue his love of music with the Hutchinson Sky Riders Drum and Bugle Corps. and attended New Mexico State University where he discovered a talent for the vibraphone.

While in school at New Mexico State University, Jones decided to try out for the drama department’s production of “Music Man” during the band’s off season. After auditioning, both the director of the show and the drama department head asked Jones why he wasn’t a drama major, and encouraged him to look into attending a performance school for vocal training.

“At the time, percussion was my main focus,” said Jones. Singing hadn’t been part of his plan. This encouragement lead to a scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he studied both vocal and percussion training for a year. While at Berklee, Jones performed with such jazz notables as Cyrus Chestnut, Delphio Marsalis, Mark Whitfield, and Jeff Sparks.

“The staff at Berklee wanted me to stay on after that first year, but I would have had to go two more years to get my degree,” said Jones. “At New Mexico State I could go for one more year and be done, and I was ready to be done.” So, Jones packed up his bags and moved back to New Mexico where he completed his bachelor’s degree in music education.

Jones furthered his musical training by completing master’s degree courses at Jacksonville State University.

It was after college that Jones entered the U.S. Army and spent six years performing percussion instruments and singing in the 14th Army Band. He has performed all over the world including such places as Germany, England, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

After retiring from the military in 1993, Jones continued to pursue his music career while teaching at schools at the elementary, high school and college levels.

“I had noticed that there was substantial growth in the music business in Atlanta,” he noted. “It seemed like Atlanta would be a good place for my music.” So, five years ago, Jones and his family, his wife LaGuanda and their nine year old son Lionel Jones III, moved to Fayetteville.

Now Jones has a new album out, “Papa Jones.” This is his third album, he has produced one jazz album (“Full Circle”) and one gospel album (“Witness”) previously, but says that this is the CD to get his career as a full-time musician off the ground. “I’m really trying to get my career to take off with this CD.”

Jones is currently finishing the year as a music educator at Idlewood Elementary School in Tucker, Ga. After the school year ends, Jones will retire to pursue his music full time.

“This is the first CD where I’ve been getting airplay, and people across the country are getting involved with the marketing,” said Jones eagerly. “This CD is radio ready.”

The album's title is a dedication to his father, Lionel Jones Sr. “I’m Lionel Jr., he’s Lionel Sr. and my son is Lionel III. The inspiration came when my son was born,” said Jones.

What does Jones say he wants listeners to take away from his jazz, urban and gospel inspired album? “I want it to get people to relax and unwind,” he stated. “From a spiritual standpoint, I want people to get in touch with God.” He goes on to say that he hopes the album will help people find peace because “people just need something to chill out with, to escape the madness of this world.”

Jones will be performing at the Sweet Auburn Festival in Atlanta on May 13 from 5-5:30 p.m. To find out more about Jones, or to view his upcoming schedule, visit or

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