ROYAL JONES DECREE By John W Garand
With a tendency to hold court with his dry sense of humor, irony, and an insatiable need for soul music, Royal Jones’ ongoing search for soul is forever. Soulful Divas are his drug of choice! Even today, besides himself, he includes unknown divas in his pursuit of soul: Latoiya Williams, Stacey Francis, Martha Wash... "I’m very impressed with the wide ranges these women possess," Royal Jones proclaims. "I’ve tried to emulate them and bring to a song what they perhaps might in my own inimitable way. Reproducing sounds, intensely scrutinizing and eventually developing a unique style." Our Royal Jones has done just that with his sweet falsetto topping a high baritone
legit range covering four octaves plus.
Royal Jones decrees:
"Be careful what you wish for is the catch phrase two living legends laid on me! I had high hopes. I was really wishing hard! No, it is not that easy becoming the next great diva being a white man! Hustlers were turning tricks with some of the music industry's biggest names to survive. I would need a demo before I would do such a thing. I heard stories! Just couldn't connect with anyone who wanted more than I was willing to give. Selling oneself would prove to be fruitless! I had no product in hand, I was at a loss as to how to remedy my fast ascent into middle age. I still have no business acumen or promotional skills. I’d proclaim: I'm the art not the business! Perhaps, that is why it's taken so long to accomplish so little."
"Backstage at NYC’s Bottom Line, I met living legend Martha Reeves. Again, I wanted some of that greatness to rub off on me. Her niceness gave me the hope that nice people can be successful. All the idols and legends from my past began to cross my path! A hand held, a hug,a kiss, a shared home, a sing-along, a phone call or two, a photo ¦I’ve touched greatness and still am in awe! To record my own poetry and lyrics which I’ve scribbled since childhood, I’ve come full circle! Even without a hit record! Studying each nuance of such luminaries as Martha, and Cissy Houston, and Marvin Gaye, it seems that’s what I live for. and my ‘favorites‘ list goes on and on."
Educational appearances in "The Meddlesome Maid", "Night Must Fall", "Once Upon A Mattress", and singing in various choruses, choirs, and glee clubs did not prepare this backwoods New Hampshire native for life in the big City. Royal Jones moved to Boston in 1977. After studying music and voice with several teachers including Geraldine Martin from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, our regal student was going on auditions for 'BJ Thomas types' and never getting the job. "Guess I should have brought an accompanist and a mirror, hah?" He studied classical music for a time at Bradford College; then there was the obligatory dance class. "Oops!" Royal Jones opted out of theatre pursuits and continued his lifelong hobby of setting his poetry to music and singing SOUL!
Royal Jones’ best friend from childhood was now headwaiter at Studio 54 and the stories Royal heard whetted his appetite for Life in The Big Apple. "I wanted some of that shine to rub off on me! If my best childhood buddy could succeed, I could, too!" Hardly! At that time, Royal Jones hadn’t the confidence. He has kicked around NYC since 1979 seeking collaborations and a support network. Royal Jones got jobs answering switchboards for the likes of Joan Jett and Arthur Ashe. Our future monarch always wanted to announce, "Hey I'm a singer. Listen to me! Do you need a white singer who can sing soul like a sister?"
It was time for a demo. All of Royal's energy was now going full throttle into making a demo. Paying for lead sheets and photos emptied the coffers. Needing direction, he multitasked working for both a major utility and as a coat check at CHASE PARK where he witnessed Cyndi Lauper and Madonna working for nothing. He was no less inspired.
Work with musical WIZ Steve Sandberg (who was most recently celebrated for his emmy-nominated "Dora The Explorer") led to fourteen songs on a "basement CD". Two of these collaborations were included in this new set of original songs from the 2004 CD "YOU BROKE THE CIRCLE" on MBIBE MUSIC both of which are given the special touch by CODEE. RUFFLE IN A BAG OF PLAIN, the project with Steve Sandberg, was based on his childhood in a New Hampshire town where the biggest attraction was the chip factory. But, Steve was too busy to continue work with Royal Jones. An introduction to Richard Morris led to work with producer CODEE known for his work with Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Cathy Dennis, P Diddy... and the list goes on. This new collaborator more suited Jones soulful nature.
Royal Jones opines:
"Everything happens for a reason. CODEE and I really connected. Those sessions went on wonderfully and got us into some trouble as well. ‘REALITY (play loud)’ brought the police and everyone else in. We rocked the neighborhood with that one. The project took forever to complete! CODEE was continually busy with other artists and doing his own thing. I was glad for any time he had. Feeling like the stars just weren't lining up for me, I had lost my faith so many times. I sang my ass off as usual in the studio and I guess it paid off. I sure do hope so. All the vocals except for three background hooks were the Royal Jones choir --- MOI! I had all sorts of names for my little trio of me."
"Sometimes I feel like I sold my soul to pay the rent! Grateful as I am for the paychecks from that major utility, I ponder where did the years go? I moved to NYC in search of a music career. A bad case of stage jitters kept me from performing live. An appearance at OUTMUSIC at the Gay and Lesbian Center in NYC helped to curb those emotions slightly. There, I received much needed support and comparisons to a ‘disco’ Neil Young and an ‘Amish’ Sylvester! Friend Humor was back. Confidence was restored. I had something to build on! Back to the drawing board and new collaborations with ‘CODEE’. All that I've kept bottled inside has poured forth onto my new CD ‘YOU BROKE THE CIRCLE’. Thoughts that some say should have been saved for the therapist’s visit are spilled out onto the tracks of this the newest CD . All these years of working for the man might just pay off."
"A bohemian needing a therapist. Lurking in the East Village is Me, Royal Jones, waiting for his big break. Yes, Royal Jones would love to let the sun shine in. I'm grateful for anything and everything. Just to still be here after kissing so many goodbye. So very many. Including my childhood buddy. Dead. Dead-dead-dead! So much has happened. The EP MAKE THINGS NICE featured four tracks that were recorded a block from the World Trade Center. So weird how I used to go through those buildings every day. Some of the lyrics are reflective of the devastation felt by that event. I saw the smoke from East 13th Street, and still, with no idea what was transpiring, I then proceeded up to work at East 38th Street. Imagine! I even was able to get a cab! All shit was happening and I was sitting on a bar stool at a counter drinking coffee! What was going on so close to me? I hadn’t a clue. The remainder of the tracks were recorded at POLARISMUSIQWORKS in Soho NYC."
"A hook up with a manager, an agent, and a good touring band are things the fairy godmother may not provide! I’m at the mercy of the people who listen to music and pursue something new. Old school, a throwback, you name it, I’ve been called it! You just can’t categorize me. My eclectic set! When I get the funk out, watch out! And then I’ll do a honey-sweet ballad like "Epiphany". What style can you truly lock me into? Hmnn? Word of mouth and people coming out to my shows that’s how I’ll survive."
"An independently distributed CD is luck of the draw. But it’s finally completed, My long awaited project is fini. So many delays and distractions and uphill climbing. Stolen demos and incredible losses have made whatever is to follow that much more bittersweet. The rent being due has delayed Royal Jones’ debut CD for too, too long! I can’t wait another Millennium!" ...
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