Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Singer's CD Debut Upcoming; Performer Wears a Lot of Hats Now

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Singer's CD Debut Upcoming; Performer Wears a Lot of Hats Now

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Blakeney, Times-Union staff writer

Whether she's waitressing, singing or running her Westside electronics and clothing shop, it's all about trying to make those around her feel good about themselves, says Donna Jones.

The 32-year-old gospel singer, who in the past was offered a spot on Star Search and appeared locally on the TV talent show Gimme the Mike in June, sings at churches and weddings, and is working on her first gospel CD, titled Donna, which is slated to debut by early September.

On top of that, she's a retailing entrepreneur, a waitress at Golden Coral and an evening and nighttime cafeteria manager.

The latter two activities are all there to help her make ends meet as she pursues her entrepreneurial and singing dreams -- and they also give her a chance to interact with people.

"The No. 1 reason I'm working on the CD is it's a blessing to people, it sets a direction for my children in life -- going after their dreams, making decisions, stability and a relationship with God," she said.

Jones was 11 when she started singing and taking voice training. She entered a talent show in her hometown of Watonga, Okla., at 14 and won second place for an a capella version of The Greatest Love of All, originally sung by Whitney Houston. She was offered a spot on Star Search because some of the judges thought she should have won first place. But Lola Bivens, her adoptive mother, felt her daughter was too young to proceed, Jones said.

Jones moved to the Jacksonville area 13 years ago and lives with her husband and two daughters in Orange Park. Her music career has taken off with help from a demo producer and also from a songwriter, Atlas C.K. Rankin, who has coached her in the traditional style of gospel music.

Jones said that her voice range is distinct from other gospel singers because it is alto-tenor and her level of singing is different.

Those who've heard her agree she has a distinct style.

"Her voice reaches me," said Dedrick Williamson, who along with his wife, Barbara, has heard Jones sing at Sons of God Ministry, the Southside church the couple attends. …

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