An artist with the voice of an angel, but whose complex, heartfelt lyrics often expressed a hardscrabble life, Donell Jones shot like a meteor into the center of the R&B world in the 1990s. Born and raised in Chicago, Jones grew up in a musical household and showed at a young age an aptitude and an attitude for music. After his parents' divorce, he was given a keyboard and later an electric guitar by his mother, and he immersed himself as a teen into the development of both his singing voice and his self-taught musicianship.
When he was twenty, as part of a vocal group he sang at a music conference in Washington, Dc, and was discovered by music producer Eddie F, who worked with Heavy D. This led to a move to New Jersey and a role as a songwriter for Eddie's production company, and song placements with Usher, 702 and Silk. But his smooth tenor voice on a demo that hit the desk of LaFace co-founder LA Reid resulted in Jones signing with LaFace as a solo artist.
Jones' 1996 debut album, My Heart, yielded two top 20 hits, "In The Hood" and a fantastic cover of Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet." It took three years of writing to finish his sophomore album, but the wait was worth it. Where I Wanna Be shot to the top of the charts on the strength of the club smash "U Know What's Up" featuring red hot TLC member Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes. He followed the single smartly with the title track, another top 5 hit that told the heartwrenching autobiographical tale of a man caught between a longtime romance and an alluring world of fame. And with "Shorty (Got Her Eyes On Me)," another smash, Jones had achieved nearly double platinum status for his sophomore album.
Trouble between Jones and LaFace on the direction of this third album resulted in a step back for Life Goes On, even though it featured the top 5 hit "You Know That I Love You," another infectious single propelled by Jones' alluring voice. The merger of LaFace into Jive Records spelled the end of Jones' relationship with the label, and his fourth album, Journey of a Gemini, debuted at #1 i 2006, but faded quickly as a result of little promotion, and personal problems that were consuming Jones.
Over the next decade, Jones continued to release new music independently, each album with something to recommend. He also conquered a difficult battle with alcoholism and set his own career back on course. He continues to record and to perform around the world, still sounding great more than a quarter century after we first heard him.
By Chris Rizik
From my heart to yours, I want to thank the entire SoulTracks family for embracing and supporting ya boy over the years. I pour my everything into my music. Your continuous support and love is all the motivation I need to keep it coming. Knowing your feeling what I'm doing lets me know that the road I traveled to get here was not in vain and that's what's up!
A special thanks to Chris for providing music lovers, like myself, with such a relevant site! Your passion, commitment and support is unparalleled and genuinely appreciated.
Love you SoulTrackers,