‘Forever Jones’: Using Reality TV to Spread the Gospel

'Forever Jones' is a reality television series debuting on Bounce TV that gives viewers a sneak peek into the lives of a family of musicians living a Christian life. (Google Images)

‘Forever Jones’ is a reality television series debuting on Bounce TV that gives viewers a sneak peek into the lives of a family of musicians living a Christian life. (Google Images)

Primetime reality television has evolved into spotlighting gospel artists like Mary Mary and The Sheards. Viewers are given candid access weekly into these musical families balancing their recording careers with caring for their loved ones.

Dewitt III and Kim Jones, now married 35 years, are no exception. The Shreveport couple leads a band of seven, forever JONES. The band features the couple’s five children: oldest daughter D’Jeniele, Dominique (or “Doe”), eldest son Dewitt IV, Judah and Mya.

The Grammy Award-nominated family’s story is now a self-titled, non-scripted series. Presented by Walmart, forever JONES is a six episode spinoff from the family’s holiday special.

Debuting on Jun. 5, forever JONES is the first program of its kind on Bounce TV, which primarily broadcasts nostalgic black programming and cinema. Kim says forever JONES is an intimate portrait into what makes a family work.

“It’s really an honor for us. Watching [Bounce TV] is like watching black history everyday. We’re a big family that travels together and works together,” says Kim.

forever JONES chronicles the band on-stage, in the recording studio and at home. Each member plays instruments, writes songs, sings and deals with personal revelations. “We don’t know how it’s gonna be edited. It was not a natural thing to have a camera in my face, lighting from the ceiling and in my bedroom,” says Kim. Adds Dewitt IV, “We’re all nervous,” he says.

On the pilot episode, forever JONES is trying to promote their sophomore effort, Musical Revival. Kim and Doe are both asked to consider solo careers. Judah heads to Kansas State on a full scholarship.

Like most parents, Kim is a nervous, protective mother. “It’s difficult. I just don’t want my baby to go so far,” she says.

Growing up, Kim recalls her children banged on pots and pans. She says each member developed its own spiritual identity and interest in music. The family still huddles and prays together at 9:00 a.m. everyday.

“They have their personal space. It was about worship and entertaining the presence of the Lord. We gave the kids their freedom with their instruments,” says Kim.

forever JONES offers another glimpse into a working class African American family.  Doe says the family is often interrogated about their target audience. She is optimistic about the series building its own following.

“Hopefully, this will allow us to create that demographic. The entire family can sit down in a room and watch,” says Doe. Known for their 2010 chart topper, “He Wants It All,” the band’s Stellar Awards-winning gospel stylings blend rock, R&B, funk, pop, country and electronica.

“It aligns with what The Bible teaches you about life in general. You have to involve Him[God] in your decision making process” says Doe.

Kim adds, “When you hear their music, you hear their lives. Take your gift, and talk to him about every challenge that you have and any challenges that you face. I want them to do and be what they really believe that God is calling them to do,” she says.

Considering illness nearly threatened Kim’s ability to have any children, forever JONES  acknowledges the power of prayer. “I celebrate the fact that we’re still in this. We’re not afraid of our own faith. That’s who we are,” says Kim.

Christopher A. Daniel is a pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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