Library to host musician and storyteller in free event

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 24, 2023

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Award-winning storyteller and musician Robert Jones, Sr. will make his LaGrange debut at LaGrange Memorial Library next week in a free session sponsored by the Friends of the Library and Lafayette Society for Performing Arts (LSPA).

The Rev. Jones, a native of Detroit, is an inspirational storyteller and musician who celebrates the history, humor and power of American Roots music. His deep love for traditional African American and American traditional music is shared in live performances that interweave timeless stories with original and traditional songs, according to a release from the Friends of the LaGrange Memorial Library.

“For more than 30 years, Jones has entertained and educated audiences of all ages in schools, colleges, libraries, union halls, prisons, churches and civil-rights organizations. At the heart of his message is the belief that our cultural diversity tells a story that should celebrate, not just tolerate,” said Dan Baker in a press release.

Jones has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The award-winning multi-instrumentalist is accomplished on guitar, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and ukulele. He has recorded six albums of original and traditional songs. Jones has taught music history courses at Wayne State University and serves as a member of the affiliate faculty at Boston’s Berklee School of Music.

Jones has also taught and performed for a number of folk music organizations, including the Ashokan Center, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Fiddle Hell, the Houston Folk Society and others.

As an ordained minister and a Baptist pastor, Jones says he has an unwavering faith the cultural importance of sacred and traditional American Roots music.

In 2017, Jones and Matt Watroba co-founded “Common Chords,” an educational organization designed to create community, cultural and historical connections through music and the arts.

“Perhaps the world’s most highly educated blues musician, an ordained minister, a longtime DJ, and a living encyclopedia of blues history, the Reverend Robert Jones is comfortable among juke-joint loud talkers, fancy-hatted church ladies and PhDs alike,” wrote the late Detroit Free Press columnist Bob Talbert.

Jones also will be among the tellers at the annual Azalea Storytelling Festival in LaGrange on March 3-5.

Jones will perform on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the library’s temporary location in the former Unity School at 525 Park Ave. in LaGrange

The session is free and open to the public.