A word from the writer…
Newbie alert: A fresh face has recently hit the Southern Gospel scene. Today, I’d like to personally welcome Layke Jones of The Jim Brady Trio to the Younger Perspective corner. No need to waste time. This is your chance to meet the new dude on the block.
Erin: It has quickly become known about the impressive accolades you have to your credit in all things musical, but where did it begin for a young Layke Jones discovering his voice?
Layke: Music has always played a big role in my life. My family enjoys listening to music and attending the occasional concert that comes into town, but I don’t think any of my family members would consider themselves musically inclined. All that to say, I’m confident that my passion for making music is a God thing.
I cannot think of a time that I haven’t been drawn to quality music. I remember as a young child being attracted to classical music, because I was fascinated by the big, robust sound that the human voice could produce. Growing up, I spent a good deal of time in choirs, band, dance and church worship programs. I believe the time spent in those activities were, without question, beneficial to what I am doing now.
Erin: For those that may not know the backstory, how did you come to fill the third part with Jim and Melissa?
Layke: During my sophomore year of college, I auditioned for Mark Lowry’s position in the Gaither Vocal Band. While I did not get the job, I did form a relationship with Bill Gaither, which has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. In March of last year Bill informed me that Jim and Melissa were in need of a third singer for their trio, and he believed our voices would mesh well. Three months after Bill connected me with the Bradys, I was a part of the group. So, I, along with several others, have Bill Gaither to thank for my employment.
Erin: In your career thus far, what are some “No way, I can’t believe I got to do that” opportunities you’ve already crossed off the list?
Layke: My top three opportunities would be:
1) Being a part of the newest Gaither Homecoming taping. Spending the day in Studio C, with all those talented folks, will be a memory I won’t soon forget.
2) Singing on the Gospel portion of the Dove Awards last fall.
3) Spending the weekend in rural Tennessee, with a handful of artists for the Gaither Artist retreat. It’s a weekend that allows gospel artists to recharge, reflect, and because it’s a Gaither event, make some beautiful music too.
Erin: How are you personally adjusting to life on the road with the Brady Bunch?
Layke: I’ll be honest, adjusting to the road life has not been the easiest for me. That said, I’ve yet to find a job that doesn’t have some sort of minor difficulty.
I try to remind myself that although being home more consistently would be my preference, I get paid to sing and share the gospel every week. That is a huge blessing for any Christian musician, especially at the ripe age of 23. Another blessing is that Jim and Melissa are great to travel with. We have a mutual respect for each other, and we do our best to accommodate each other while on the road, so that makes the traveling much easier.
Erin: Congratulations on recently graduating from Anderson University. How would you describe your college years?
Layke: I would describe the years spent at AU as busy at times, and trying, but overall memorable. I was involved in our university chorale, symphonic band, jazz band, private voice lessons, dance classes, and on occasion, I attended my actual liberal arts classes. Aside from the busy workload, I was able to form lasting friendships with both students and professors, and I am forever grateful for what AU offered me during my time there.
Erin: I believe I read recently that you play the trombone. Any chance it will be making a grand appearance in the Southern Gospel world?
Layke: I was almost certain my band-geek days were behind me, but who knows. I definitely have a passion for playing and listening to good instrumental music, so if Jim would want to shoot a trombone feature my way, I wouldn’t turn it down.
Erin: Looking back on your time spent singing and dancing at Kings Island, is there perhaps a silly or embarrassing story you’d be willing to share?
Layke: I could very easily write a book on all the embarrassing moments that took place during my time at Kings Island, but I’ll spare you the long list. I’ve flubbed words during solos, my retainer has fallen out of my mouth during a dance break, and I’ve chipped a singer’s tooth on a microphone. Again, these are just a few incidents that occurred during my five years at the amusement park. It was a crazy season of my life, but getting to perform during my college years with so many talented young adults was incredible.
Erin: What musical genres inspire you? Also, who are your top five favorite artists?
Layke: I grew up on a steady musical diet of big band, classic rock, Broadway, folk, and Christian music. I don’t know that any one genre inspires me. I am however, inspired by originals, true creatives, and anyone who writes/sings/plays quality music. At the moment, my top five favorite artists, in no certain order, are: James Taylor, David Phelps/GVB, Voctave, Thirdstory, Frank Sinatra.
Erin: Can we be expecting a new album from The Jim Brady Trio in 2017?
Layke: I think at this point we can share that we will be releasing some music in 2017. This new album will be balanced, giving the listeners some new/progressive tracks, but also some songs that lean more on the traditional side. I am very excited about this project and I think the folks who follow JBT will love it.
Erin: If you could give your younger self advice about the future ahead, what would you say?
Layke: I would encourage my younger self to be present in all that I do. Life has so many beautiful things to offer, and making an effort to stop and smell the roses will drastically change the way one lives their life. I would also encourage my younger self to be more confident in what I believe to be true and not worry about what others might think. We should always be willing to listen to others as we can gain great insight from doing so, but I would encourage younger self to hold firmly to what I believe in.
Erin: With all these new and exciting changes coming your way, how do you keep Christ at the center of it all?
Layke: This is an excellent question, because to be honest, I think that is a big struggle for artists on the road. We don’t have the luxury of going to church every week, and it can be draining. That said, the benefit to being on the road so often is that my devotional time has become more of a priority. I also do a lot of reading while on the bus. I am presently hooked on the written works of Christian authors Anne Lamott, Brennan Manning, and Donald Miller. Also, on occasion, I am able to attend a midweek service at a church here in Nashville, so any time spent there is a blessing.
Closing words from the writer…
It’s easy for any of us to make excuses when it comes to a lack of quiet time spent with the Lord. Life is crazy and the endless demands can become overwhelming. Do you ever reach the end of your day, only to realize you hadn’t talked to God, not once? Though our schedules and occupations come in all shapes and sizes, the need to prioritize Jesus should be our number-one desire. Sit in His presence with coffee or tea in hand, listen to a sermon in rush hour, jam out to some gospel music while getting ready, or read an encouraging devotional book to unwind at the end of a long day. Get quiet, get alone and get with the Lord every day.
I appreciate Layke’s honesty in admitting it can be a struggle, but as the saying goes, we make time for what is really important to us. How nice to know that Jesus doesn’t have to make time for us. He’s right there, friend, waiting for you.
And that’s my take on it.
Until next month, Scoops fans.
Photographs courtesy of Layke Jones. Pictures from the Gaither video taken by Daniel Meigs. Jim Brady Trio in concert photograph taken by Craig Harris.
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First published in the SGNScoops Magazine April 2017.
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