I hadn’t thought about him for a long time, and then recently I met the New Orleans musician Kelly Love Jones.
So, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Kelly Jones, and I am a singer / songwriter / guitarist / mother / lover of life / follower of dreams / adventurer / warrior for love!
Who or what got you started playing music? Any influences and where have you studied (or who have you studied with)?
I started out in high school as a hip hop artist based on a statement that was presented to me by a friend of mine who said, “Girls can’t rap!” I’ve always been one to dare and challenge myself to go beyond my own self-imposed limitations. Little did he know that his doubt in woman’s ability to rap would be internalized by me as a dare and become the motivating factor to the beginning of my dedication and practice to a craft that has become the rhythm of my hearts desire to this day. To him I say, “Thank you for helping me to begin my journey into music!” When I was 19 years young my Aunt Troy, an extraordinary opera singer, gave me my first guitar and lessons for the exchange of a promise to her that I would never stop playing. I have kept that promise along with learning how to sing and write my own original music. She was a powerhouse to me and a great influence musically and otherwise in my life, a true inspiration.
Tell me about your Katrina experience. What brought you back?
I left the day before Katrina hit. Katrina taught me that material things can be gone in an instance. It reminded me of what was important in my life. I’m very grateful that I didn’t lose any family members . . . that’s what’s important. I’ve traveled and toured in many different countries and in many cities throughout the United States, and though I’ve been able to meet and find wonderful people and experience different terrain, no place could compare to the magic that I feel exists in New Orleans! I love my home! That love brought me back and brings me back every time I leave. It’s undeniably enticing!
What does the future hold for you and what are your hopes for the city?
I am a Grammy Award winning artist! There is no doubt in my mind. I’m creating my future in the momentum of the present moment. And presently, I believe in me! Nothing is impossible. I can do anything I put my mind to. Matter of fact, the funny thing is I thought of you, Jean-Paul, and of doing this interview with you the day before I saw you again and told you that I had a story to tell. I created this chance for myself. And I continue to attract the things and situations that help me to mold my future experiences.
Excellent, then tell me a story.The story I want to tell is one of a single mothers’ journey following her dreams, pursuing her happiness and making her mark. In 2010 I set off on my “Triumphant Tour.” I left Atlanta with a one way ticket to California, $80, 3 booked gigs, a guitar, a baby, a stroller, a bag of clothes and diapers, a bag of CDs and a dream wrapped in faith! From those 3 shows I managed to gain 8 months worth of gigs playing up and down California with baby in tote. On this adventure I recognized an important lesson that needed to be addressed. The dream I was living was courageous to some, impossible in the minds of others, foolish to many but undoubtably life changing to me. The lesson: determination. Each night I performed with my son either sitting on my lap, sleeping in my guitar bag on the stage, or standing next to me pulling on my clothes to hold himself up. I was determined to not stop following my dreams of performing and playing music because I had a child. He was and is my motivation. In the display of my motherhood publicly, I initially had no idea how powerful it was to those viewing this exchange between mother and son. How many women, men, single parents came up to me and expressed how my show changed their lives was innumerable. During every show I spoke of the importance of never giving up on your dreams and the importance of showing our children what following your dreams looks like. If we tell our children they can be and do anything they put their mind to then we have to do the same. This is a journey that I’m very passionate about and still continue to this day.
My dream of being a musician initially came from a dare and so I end this interview with a challenge to the reader: dare to dream!
Listen to Kelly Love Jones’ music here.
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.