In modern Black history, the Black church is the center of the community. More than just a spiritual resource for the congregants and community, it became the center of educational, social, and political opportunity and change. As the church set comfortably at the center, it’s songs became the joy, hope and strength of the people.
Born in Henry, Tennessee, Dr. Bobby Jones, The Ambassador, holds the distinction of producing and hosting the longest running cable television program Bobby Jones Gospel. Premiering in 1980, on Black Entertainment Television, Bobby Jones Gospel introduced gospel music to the world and served as a conduit for gospel music to become mainstream. Jones graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education at the age of nineteen. He later earned his M.Ed. from Tennessee State, an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University and a Th.D. from Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Jones worked in Saint Louis and Metropolitan Nashville public schools from 1959 to 1968. He was then hired as a textbook consultant from McGraw-Hill Publishers and worked as an instructor at Tennessee State from 1974 to 1986. Dr. Jones has produced and hosted programs for the Word Network, BET, The Gospel Channel, and the Sheridan Gospel Radio Network. His work in gospel music has earned him multiple awards including a Grammy Award in 1984, a Dove Award, three Stellar Awards, and three Trumpet Awards.
In 2009, Dr. Jones donated his recordings, and exclusive rights of performances and television programs to Tennessee State University. The $6 million in-kind donation was the largest gift of its kind received by the university.
Yolanda Adams grew up in household permeated with all types of music—classical, gospel and jazz. This Houston native earned her degree in education from Texas Southern University. Adams eventually left her career as an elementary educator as the demand for her musical career increased. She released her first album in 1987. Her sophomore album included one of her noted songs, The Battle Is Not Yours. 1999’s Mountain High…Valley Low thrust Adams into the mainstream led by her smash hit, Open My Heart.
Adams musical career has earned her multiple awards including Grammys, Dove Awards, American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards. Named the Queen of Modern Gospel, Adams has expanded her career to include hosting a morning radio show, publishing a book and serving as a judge on BET’s Sunday Best.
If you are a gospel music fan, you know there is something special about The Clark Sisters. If you aren’t familiar with The Clark Sisters, one can nearly guarantee “The Clark Sound” has influenced your favorite artist. The Clark Sisters’
influence reaches beyond gospel–easily found in jazz, hip-hop andR&B. The mastermind behind “The Clark Sound” is Elbernita ‘Twinkie” Clark. Twinkie Clark penned gospel standards such as, Is My Living In Vain, Name It, Claim It, Expect A Miracle and The Clark Sisters 80’s crossover hit, You Brought The Sunshine.
Clark named the “Mother of Contemporary Gospel” and the “Queen of the Hammond B3 Organ” is a musician, songwriter, arranger, producer and vocalist. Before she was a teenager, Clark served as the organist of the Southwest Michigan State Choir album recording. Clark received training from not only her mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, noted musician and directress, but also as a student at Howard University. While at Howard, Clark studied classical music and was a member of the Howard University Rankin Chapel Choir.