Daddy was Reverend Raymond D. Jones, aka Brother Ray: preacher, evangelist, high lonesome tenor-singing rhythm guitar player, pioneering pastor for his sect and Mother’s forever boyfriend.
Born in 1914, if he were here today he’d take a look at social media, say “Don’t that beat all!” and figure a way to work it into a sermon.
Photo above: 1955, First worship service inside the new church in Bogalusa, Louisiana
The church under construction
In Americus, Georgia early in his ministry, he was in charge of creating a congregation and building a church. During the war no new lumber was available, so the congregation bought an old hotel and demolished it, re-purposing the lumber for a new building.
That’s Daddy on the left, wearing his preacher clothes,
working with the crew.
And one of my favorites. Brother Ray in a Sunday morning suit.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy, from one of the preacher’s kids.
Here’s how The Glory Road book became a play first. I began writing the book years ago, put it aside and turned to short stories. A Los Angeles broadcast buddy, Don Barrett, introduced me to estimable literary agent, Carol Schild, who suggested I make the stories into a play. Entertaining friends got together and we put on a show.
Multiple talents made up the casts, offering suggestions all along. There were revisions and more revisions, all valuable lessons for a first-time playwright. I was new to it. They weren’t.
Both directors, David Atkinson and Greg (North) Zerkle, (accomplished actors and directors – and boy can they sing!) are friends I met at church in Los Angeles. The casts for each show started in our congregation and kept extending out to performing friends of friends. The church we had in common was Little Brown Church in Studio City which grew into Church Of The Valley, Van Nuys. These two congregations were (and still are) populated with singers and musicians and dancers and writers and actors and radio and television and movie and Broadway babies.
I keep rewrite notes attached to each of these script versions in the picture above. Once the new book is launched, I hope to see The Glory Road onstage again, full throttle, lots of music and our show’s Southern Gospel quartet in matching jackets, beautiful harmony, Ray and Fern and their big love story and big conflicts.
Here’s a version of the song we opened with onstage. Our quartets rocked! Written in the 1950’s by Lee Roy Abernathy, this version of “He’s A Personal Savior” is performed by the Gaither Vocal Band.
Bonus – another Lee Roy Abernathy song he’s most famous for. Performed here by The Blackwood Brothers. Originally titled “A Wonderful Time Up There,”it quickly became known as “Gospel Boogie.”This one’s made for a bass singer. This version is by Brian Free & Assurance.
The Glory Road is where I spend most of my time these days, immersed in the book manuscript. Interested parties ask, why aren’t you blogging about that? Starting with this week’s post, I’ll share some of the process while putting together this multi-media project about the life of my family.
We traveled the Deep South in the 1950’s, carrying songs from then to now. Today the music Mother and Daddy recorded, much of it written by Mother, Sister Fern Jones, is heard everywhere. Brother Ray Jones (Daddy) added harmony and rhythm guitar.
I’ll add photos and music from time to time and if you want a reminder about each week’s post, you can sign up on this page where it says “Subscribe to blog via email.”
Here are a couple of paragraphs from The Glory Road book manuscript:
Daddy was the sheriff of Mayberry with a deep Southern drawl and a Bible in his hand. Tall and good looking and enormously likable, he was in possession of both the strength and the patience of a natural leader. Mother was a pretty and provocative teenaged honky-tonk queen turned into a preacher’s wife and gospel singer.
We were gospel gypsies, short on money, heavy in equipment, stopping to perform at Singings, at churches, under revival tents and at radio stations. We spent much of the 1950’s in our old sedan, traveling the Deep South wherever his calling to preach and her calling to sing took us. The front seat made the decisions while the back seat waited to see where we’d be living for the next few weeks….
Here’s gospel-to-rockabilly in one song, “Keeps Me Busy” from the album “Fern Jones, The Glory Road.” Re-mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering in Boston and released by Numero Group out of Chicago. The original was recorded in the 1950’s at the Bradley Brothers’ famous Quonset Hut in Nashville. Guitar licks from legendary Hank Garland. While recording this album, all the studio musicians were also working with Elvis over at RCA.