Cynthia Jones is not new to the music scene but released her first national album called "Gotta Soul" in 2008. Her title track "Gotta Soul" has received much acclaim in the neo soul genre. Sporting her bold auburn colored afro, she has broken the traditional mold and is reaching those people who may not have otherwise received the good news of Jesus Christ.
I read your biography on MySpace and saw that you started writing your first song in the eight grade. Can you share just what that song was about.
The song was called "I Love You More Each Day" and it was talking about my relationship with the Lord at my young age. How I saw Him. I wrote the song because at the time God was always to me, a forgiving God. And He still is a forgiving God but back then I just felt like I was different and that I would make mistakes all the time. But then knowing who God was at a young age I thought about that song and how much I loved him more each and every day. There's a part in the song where I say you gave more to me than I gave back to you. That song ended up being a strong wedding song, people used to pick that song for weddings. It ended up being a song that I sang at a lot of weddings. I want to bring it back now that I'm an established artist. I would like to redo the song and put it on the next album.
What influences have molded the artist/person that you are today?
There were several before I gave my life to Christ. I love Chaka Khan, Anita Baker and now I still like Eryka Badu, India Airie... Those ladies are true lyricists, in my opinion. But then on the Christian side, I love Kim Burell, oh my gosh, I love Kim Burrell. I grew up listening to Tremaine Hawkins, but I really really really love Kim Burrell, Lisa McClendon, Debra Killings... I've had the pleasure to be on stage with those ladies(Lisa McClendon and Debra Killings) and go on tours with those ladies. I did two stages with Lisa McClendon and I opened for Debra Killings. So some of those ladies, I feel like have made the way for me. I just love the fact that I was given the opportunity to pay homage to them. So big ups to them. Saved or not I just like soul music. I love soul music. We call it neo soul or new soul but really it's just good old soul from the 70's. And when I listened to some of my secular music from back in the day I was doing it then. Once I gave my life to Christ and I really honed in on what I really wanted to do and what God wanted me to do, it really ended up being that style of music anyway. When I first came out I was traditional, contemporary, hymns... I was all over the place. You couldn't tell what kind of artist I was until I did the second CD and I actually started going back to my soulful roots. And I decided to stay there and it has proven to be where God has called me to be with the Stellar and Grammy nods. The floodgates just opened after that CD came out so I just thank God for it.
I know that you had a prophecy spoken over your life at a young age. How did you discover your purpose?
A lot of time people speak things over your life but I knew what God had for me when I tried not to do it. If you know what I mean. I used to say I don't want to write anymore but I couldn't stop it was in me. Even when I was going to sleep it was still in me. I was sleeping with a pencil and paper by my pillow case and I would just wake up and just write, write, write. As I was riding my motorcycle, songs would come to me while I was on the open highway. So I would try to stop [writing] because for me it was more like a hobby at first, but I couldn't stop. I knew then that this is what God had given me, especially with the lyrics He was giving me. I could only write as God gives it to me. I just can't write just to write. I write as God gives it to me.
I see you have a love for motorcycles and developed a ministry called "Soul Patrol" Motorcycle Ministry. How neat! Please tell me more about it.
Yes, the Soul Patrol Motorcycle Ministry and the Ebony Angels. The Ebony Angels is still going strong now. It's an all female motorcycle group. It's still going strong. We are just a group of ladies that wanted to ride bikes and shop at the same time. But we didn't want to look like guys so we were very feminine when we rode. We would ride different places and strap our items down on our bikes. But me being a Christian and a soul winner and the go getter that I am, I saw more than just riding just to be riding. I saw souls. Like I sung tonight, "Gotta Soul". That everybody has a soul and when I would hear that this one died, this one crashed, this one died... It did something to me. And I said man I didn't even get a chance to talk to that person. You know as a Christian that bothered me to hear that I rode with this person and never said anything. So that's when I came up with Soul Patrol Motorcycle Ministry and it was still a female ministry. We would ride for Christ but it was for a purpose. I still would go to the meet and greets but I wouldn't do the parties. I would pass out my tracts at the meet and greets The meet and greets were a way for me to meet other people. To this day, I'm highly respected as a Christian biker. The National Black Biker's Association booked me for the infamous "Black Bike Week". I went down there for a purpose though, not only as an artist to sing on Sunday at their Jazz Brunch, but I went there for a purpose to at least plant a seed and it was very effective and I thank God for that. And I'm a very bold person and I come to proclaim and shout the name of Jesus Christ. I don't back down at all.
What advice would you give to someone who is an artist trying to break into the music industry and is trying to decide if they should go secular or gospel?
Well the thing is if you have to decide if you want to go secular or gospel then this is not your calling, because never once, once I gave my life to Christ, have I ever thought about going back to R & B never. Because I understand this is what God has ordained for me to do, I don't have a desire to straddle the fence, cross the fence, whatever you want to call it. So if you have to decide it's not your calling. First of all, it shouldn't be a tough choice for you to decide if you want to stand for Christ. Then, second of all, if it is what God has called you to do, you need to understand the industry, study the industry. Get literature on it so that you will be somewhat knowledgeable about what you're getting into, because the Word of God still says that you have to study to show yourself approved. Lastly, I would say be persistent, be persistent, because if God wants you to have it He's going to give it to you but you still need to be working. You still got to work your faith. You know God can do it but you need to work your faith. So take the shows where there's no one there but five people because you never know who's in the audience. Don't get so big headed where you have to all of sudden be getting paid. You have to pay your dues first before somebody pays you. You know, I can't tell you how many shows where I have done that. Once again, as I said earlier if you understand where God wants you it's not about the money anyway. That's all going to come because it's supposed to be about the ministry. And that's where I'm at.
Now what is some of the creative energy that you had to put into the "Gotta Soul" album?
[Laughing] Look at me. Some people know my hair before they know my name. I was coming into Arizona this morning and I was at the airport and a lady was staring at me. Then she came up to me before I went to my gate and said, "Are you that lady that I saw on the DINO show on TBN." I said, " Yeah." Then she said, "I thought that was you." So my hair gives me away a lot of times.
So how did you come up with your hairstyle?
I was rushing one day and picked out my hair and I said, "Hmmm, I like that." And it's been this way for ten years now. It was always big. It's been blue, asymmetric, etc. I've always done different stuff with my hair. That's just me, I've always walked against the grain.
What can fans and listeners expect from Cynthia Jones in the years to come?
One thing they can always expect from Cynthia Jones is to sing the unadulterated true Word of God. I don't sugar coat it. That's why my lyrics are as raw and organic as they can be. Because I'm on a mission and I wanna make sure the message is very precise and very clear of who I'm talking about. I'm talking about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The lyrics can be as funky as it wants to be, because Cynthia Jones is going to bring it to you. She going to give you that soulful sound, but with my lyrics you will never have to compromise. And that's one thing that I thank God for. People are starting to say, when I read my guestbook and comments, that when they gave their life to Christ they couldn't listen to neo-soul because they felt like they couldn't listen to that music, because of the lyrics. But they are thankful that Cynthia Jones can come along and give them the music that they love and want to hear. And they don't have to compromise. So I will bring it to you and I'll bring you the Truth. That's why it's hard to take me because some of the stations are like we don't know where to put her. They are slowly coming around and they have come around. And I just thank God that right now it has become my season. It's my season and I'm walking in it.