Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Royal Jubilee Singers
By Otis Jones
Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County, NC
Skills: Demonstrating Artist, Public Presentations
“I just love to sing; I don't know of anything that I love in this world better,” says Otis Jones, lead singer for Roanoke Rapids’ Royal Jubilee Singers. Jones has been singing with the Royal Jubilee Singers—an a capella group modeled on early quartets like the Golden Gate Quartet, the Heavenly Gospel Singers, and the Selah Jubilee Singers—for nearly six decades, and his gift and dedication to his craft are clearly evident in the way he leads the group through well-loved songs like “Lord, I’m in Your Care” and “Working on a Building.”
Jones explains that his love for singing began early. His family farmed, and the young singer took any opportunity he could to improve his skills. “I would go up in the barn loft,” he remembers. “And as I looked look through the peanut vines to get peanuts out of them, I would sing those Golden Gate songs. That's how I got started.”
Jones remembers the Roanoke Rapids of his childhood being a place that encouraged community and creativity, and in this way his hometown fostered his ambitions as a singer.
“We had a lot of love then. People in the community mainly farmed, so we had the chance to see each other on a regular basis. Now, we don't see each other because everybody's busy doing their own thing. At that time, we would often get together. We used to have something called Children's Day, and the young boys would have little quartets they'd gotten together, and they would sing on the program. That's the way it was back then.”
The Royal Jubilee Singers—who currently count Deacons Otis Jones, Fred Carter, Gilbert Harding, Ralph Hardy, and Brother James Johnson as members—are considered among the top tier of gospel quartets in the region. All in their 80s (except for Johnson, who is in his 70s), the group continues to perform on church programs throughout Halifax County. “The Lord has blessed us,” says Jones. “We have been to many places. We're getting slower in age now, but God continues to bless us.”
Available for special engagements.