Hustle and Soul Magazine is honored to bring to you our next Icon Spotlight. Mr. Where I Wanna Be himself, American Music Award recipient, Singer, Songwriter, and Music Producer, Mr. Donell Jones. Donell’s voice and timeless music are a whole vibe that defines why we love R&B music. His soulful, and vibrant energy changed the game in the music industry and his place is cemented among the best to ever do it.
With tons of studio albums recorded and a variety of hit records including “This Luv”, “You Know What’s Up”, and “You Know That I Love You” have captured our hearts, and minds. We’re always turning the volume up when we hear a Donell Jones record come on.
Hustle and Soul Magazine got an exclusive interview with Donell to discuss his iconic career, upcoming projects, and more. We salute, honor, and respect our Black King Donell who has brought decades of joy to our lives through his masterpiece music.
Tammy Reese: Happy Belated Birthday! What did you do for your Birthday?
Donell Jones: Thank You! My family showed up and showed out! A lot of people came down to celebrate with me, it was beautiful!
Tammy Reese: How have you kept longevity in the music industry?
Donell Jones: By putting out music and doing music that I love first of all, and then just staying true to who I am musically. I’m not trying to be any other artist or anything like that. I just really love good music.
Tammy Reese: Yes! I must say, “Where I Wanna Be,” “This Luv,” and “You Know That I Love You” to name of few of your songs, are some of the most timeless, and powerful songs that have ever been presented to the music industry. When you first got into the industry what was the impact you intended to make?
Donell Jones: I was so in love with Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder, I just wanted to make music that made people feel good because that’s how they made it. I wanted to continue that legacy.
Tammy Reese: How has the pandemic been treating you?
Donell Jones: I think it’s been awesome. Unfortunately, a lot of people lost their lives. What it did for me was, it kind of woke me up, and put some fire under me. I started getting out, working out, getting in that gym, walking, and getting some of that Vitamin D from the sun.
It made me think about life in general. I have to live it to the fullest. We never know when that day is coming, or when that time is going to come so why not just live it to the fullest, and live it with a free mind.
Tammy Reese: Speaking of free, your latest album is called “100% free”, please tell us about it and how it came about?
Donell Jones: When the pandemic first started I was working on another project, named Elevate, and I had got a strong idea to do a free album, name it 100% free, and then talk about what freedom means.
At that particular time, we all had to put on masks and we were all kind of stuck in the house. So my idea was, we wanted to be free from that, and we want to be free from doubting ourselves. We want to be free thinkers, free to love ourselves, and all those things that we neglect sometimes. That’s where the idea came from and I just made an album based on love.
Tammy Reese: I’m so here for it! Now, I don’t know if you know, but I know that if you were to go on Twitter right now and type in “Donell Jones Verzuz” you’re going to see millions upon millions of people tagging Swizz, Tim, and Verzuz and posting away that we need a Donell Jones Verzuz. So, Donell, when you’re tapped to do Verzuz, who would you like to celebrate your career with?
Donell Jones: There are so many guys and I love a lot of them. Ginuwine, Carl Thomas, Jon B, Case, Joe, Jaheim, Musiq Soulchild. There are so many great ones that I would love to celebrate with. It doesn’t matter, we can do a four-play with four guys, it’s whatever!
Tammy Reese: Millions, upon millions of people are ready for it for sure! You were on DJ Cassidy’s Pass The Mic with so many other Icons from your era. That was really epic! For someone who has been in the industry as long as you have what do you think is the current state of R&B? What do you like and what’s missing?
Donell Jones: What I like about it is I love the music. Musically I think they’re taking things to a new level. What we did was a little different which I love because you can have what music is today and you can also vibe off of what we do.
What’s missing right now is the fact that there is not a lot of people like myself putting out music. I think a lot of people want to hear it, but we have to get it out there. Honestly, I love what the new guys are doing. I never want to knock any artists on what they’re doing.
I would just say the subject matter and the verbiage may be a little bit crazy. But other than that it’s their time, let them have it. People like myself are coming back, we’re singing about love, and I think we need that as well.
Tammy Reese: Absolutley! What are some memorable moments in your career that you’re extremely proud of?
Donell Jones: Winning the American Music Award was one of the greatest moments in my life. As a kid, I watched that show for countless years. I never thought that would be me, that dream came true. Also, selling a million records was amazing for me.
Being able to do what I love to do, get paid for it, and continue to do it all of these years is amazing. I couldn’t ask for more.
Tammy Reese: What are you currently working on and what can we be on the lookout for?
Donell Jones: I’m working on a new album and I’m about to form a group with two other incredible artists. We’re going to show up and show out! I got a remix coming that has myself, Dave Hollister, Carl Thomas, Jacquees, and RL from Next on this remix for my song Karma. I’m just ecstatic and happy about my journey moving forward.
Tammy Reese: When you’re making your masterpieces as singer, songwriter, and music producer, what are some must-have items that you have to have in the studio to get in your zone?
Donell Jones: I got to have some candles, some incense, low lights, and just vibe. Something I’ve been doing for a long time before I make music is listening to people like Teddy Pendergrass, The Isley Brothers, Babyface, and stuff like that to get in my mood and then start creating.
Tammy Reese: Earlier you mentioned Michael Jackson, what’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?
Donell Jones: The Lady In My Life.
Tammy Reese: Yes! From the Thriller album.
Donell Jones: Yes! That’s my joint, I love that record. Anytime I hear it, I got to stop and I got to listen to it.
Tammy Reese: What is the best advice that ever got as a music artist?
Donell Jones: The best advice I’ve gotten is to keep pushing, and to never give up. I know we hear that a lot, but I’ve also been taught to study the greats. You’re never going to know enough about music.
Even though I’ve been in for a long time I treat each and every album like the beginning as if I’m starting over. That’s what makes me who I am today because I’m able to start fresh, and nothing from the old is what I try to put in the new.
Tammy Reese: Would you give that advice to aspiring music artists? Or what would you add to that for those who aspire to even have a tip of the iceberg of a career that you’ve had?
Donell Jones: I would add to don’t be afraid to be original. Study and find out why this particular song was number one for 10 weeks. Listen to the musicality of what they’re putting in the songs to make them dope. Find out how to write songs with a structure that is pleasing to the ear. I think all these things are important. It’s your dream, you can make it come true, but you have to believe.
Tammy Reese: If you had to choose between “Where I Wanna Be” and “This Luv” to sing for the rest of your life what’s song would it be?
Donell Jones: That’s hard because both will evoke different types of feelings. When I sing “Where I Wanna Be” people be in their feelings and when I sing “This Luv” they feel like they’re in the club again.
I think I would choose “Where I Wanna Be” because it touches people hard. When I sing that song at a concert the crowd goes crazy. So that’s just one of those joints that I could never go anywhere without singing that.
Tammy Reese: Lastly, what would you say to supporters who’ve been rocking with you all of these years?
Donell Jones: I love y’all! Y’all know I love y’all! Y’all have been rocking me from day one. I’ll keep making music if you guys keep listening. I put my life on record. If you listen to my first album all the way to now, you can see the growth as a man and I’ll continue to do that. It’s what I love to do.
Tammy Reese: Thank you so much, Black King, our Icon Spotlight. We appreciate your valued time today.
Donell Jones: Thank you. I appreciate you having me!
Keep up-to-date with Donell Jones and his iconic career by connecting on Instagram @donelljonesforever
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Multimedia Content Creator Tammy Reese is an Award-Winning Journalist and Writer. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She also is The Founder of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.