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Mitchell Jones
Jubal's Joint Archive

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"Jubal's Joint" Music Ministry Page Archive By:
Carl B. Phillips

"Still Commissioned: The Songs of Mitchell Jones""Still Commissioned..." An Interview with Mitchell Jones

In the early 80’s, I was a big fan of the Winans and the Clarks Sisters until one day my girlfriend gave me a copy of a new group called Commissioned. From the first notes of “I’m Going On,” I became a Commissioned fan.

When I began my career in broadcasting, one of the songs I couldn’t play enough of was Commissioned’s “Ordinary Just Won’t Do,” co-written by Mitchell Jones; never realizing that one day I would have the opportunity to sit down with this great man of God and discuss his music and his ministry.

The day that I was to meet with Mitchell Jones for this interview, I left work and went by God’s World to pick up his latest CD. While I listened to the CD it brought back such great memories of so many great songs Mitch had composed during his years with Commissioned.

When I pulled up to his house, I looked and realized that he stayed on the same street as another gospel legend, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. (It must be something in the water on that side of town.) Upon entering his home, Mitch greeted me with a hug and the humility that he has displayed ever since I’ve known him. After meeting his wife, who quietly and lovingly supports him, we began a very in-depth interview discussing his new project, his years with Commissioned, his love for his family and his love affair with God.

Carl B. Phillips: What’s been going on with Mitch Jones since the Commissioned Reunion?

Mitch: I just put out a new CD that’s called “Still Commissioned: The Songs of Mitchell Jones.” A few months back I was in prayer, and the Lord told me to do the best of Mitchell Jones, the songs that I wrote with Commissioned, to redo some of them and also include two new songs from the praise and worship album I’ve been working on for the past two years. I realize that I’m not here to promote an album, but I’m here to promote the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; promote the soon return of Jesus; and promote the kingdom of God.

Carl B. Phillips: It’s great to have you back. As I looked over the old songs on the CD, I found that your writing partner was another gospel legend, Parkes Stewart.

Mitch: Yes, a wonderful great writer and a great person.

Carl B.: Tell Detroit Gospel.com readers what it’s like working with Parkes Stewart.

Go to Parkes Stewart's WebsiteGospel Artist Parkes Stewart

Mitch: Parkes is such a blessing to work with. Parkes is a phenomenal writer, a great man of God, he’s humble and he loves God. We have a lot of things in common, like playing sports, and playing basketball. When I first met him, a lot of people said that he reminds them of me, and the people say the same thing about him. So when we met, we hit it off right away. Parkes is such a great person, and a great writer. It was a great experience writing with him. We wrote quite a few songs together for Commissioned. I thank God that I had a chance to work with him.

Carl B.: Will you and Parkes work together in the future?

Mitch: Oh yea! He comes over once or twice a month, and we co-write together. We plan on doing something together on his next album.

Carl B.: On this project you duet with your daughter Adrienne. What was that experience like?

Mitch: It was a great experience; it took me back to the time she was born. It almost feels like she came out of the womb singing. She’s a very, very talented young lady. It was a great experience for me to see her talents develop over the years, and to get her on the album and see her smile the first time she heard herself. It really did something for me.

Carl B.: So the legacy of the Jones family continues.

Mitch: Oh yea, I believe she’s going to take it to another level. I’m not rushing her. I want to make sure that I pour into her how to love God, and train her up in the way that she should go. A lot of times when we have talent in our family, we want to push them. I think more importantly we should make sure that their love affair with God is really established. I want Adrienne to have a great foundation in her love affair, so that whatever she wants, if it’s singing or not, she’s doing it to the glory of God.

Carl B.: You also introduced another talented new artist, Darrin Patterson. How important to you is it to give other young people a chance?

The Commissioned Reunion "Live"Mitch: I definitely believe in that. When Commissioned was coming up, there weren’t a lot of people that showed us things about the industry. I believe in pouring into the next generation and trying to help them develop their spiritual relationship. The Bible says there are “not many fathers” (1 Corinthians 4:15), and how the Lord was saying the fathers would turn back to the children, and the sons would turn back to the children. It’s just in my heart to pour into the next generation, not so much to minister. The first thing we do when we find people who have talent is try to push them into doing so many things rather than being. I’m more concerned with making sure the next generation be something, before they go do something. That’s important. If they become who God wants them to be, then the doing will be a result of who they are. I believe who you are is more important than what you do. When we were coming up that wasn’t important. You were pushed a lot to go sing. Being wasn’t that important, but I believe being is more important than doing.

Carl B.: Your background group is called 3rd Dimension. Why that name?

"Beyond The Veil"Mitch: 3rd Dimension came from, looking at the order of God. You start thinking about Father, Son, Holy Ghost; Death, Burial, Resurrection; Outer Court, Inner Court, Holy of Holies; Thanks, Praise, Worship; In him we live, move, and have our being; not by power, not by might, but by spirit; faith hope and charity. God gave us that name. It came from the “Beyond The Veil” CD. When we start to look at the order of God, we say that the 3rd Dimension is where we want to live our lives; it’s beyond the veil. We labor to surrender to God, to enter the rest of God where the work is finished. We cease from our own works and doing our own thing, and we began to do the things of God.

Carl B.: Let’s talk about the story’s behind the songs you wrote for Commissioned. First “Cry On” . . .

Mitch: “Cry On” - It came from an experience I had in my life. I was going to Greater Grace and I felt like either I was going to be saved or I wasn’t going to be saved. I was really struggling. I didn’t know that God loves us when we’re right or when we’re wrong. I was trying to be saved by effort, not by faith. I heard the late Bishop David L. Ellis preach, “without patience we’ll never know what God can bring you through.” When he said that, it inspired the song. That statement made me understand that you can’t only have faith, because patience is the thing that gets you the prize. From that point on I decided I’m going to live for God. No matter how many times I may fall, I'm going to stick with God. It's really no other place to go. The song says, "Cry on, God understands your tears, He knows how much that you can bear - the faintest cry He'll hear. Cry on, when there's nothing else to say, surely He'll wipe all your tears away. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning."

Carl B.: "Ordinary Just Won’t Do" . . .

Mitch: "Ordinary Just Won’t Do" - Parkes actually wrote the lyrics for that song. We got together, and he was sharing some of the experiences he had. The song really talks about how weak man is in a sense, and how ordinary man is. But the song gives an answer and a solution to how extraordinary God is. We live in a time when men will fail you, and times change. However, we serve a God that never changes, never leaves us or forsakes us. The song just exploits how God is not an ordinary God.

Carl B.: "I Am Here" . . .

Mitch: "I Am Here" - That song is the cry; the heart and the passion of God crying out to everyone saying you may have tried drugs, drinking, or thrusting after women. God is saying no one can satisfy that spiritual thirst. We are created to worship God. So, He’s crying out to the world saying try this love. This love will never leave you nor forsake you. This love will be with you always throughout eternity. When you’re right or wrong My love is stronger than death. Try this love.

Carl B.: "Victory" . . .

Mitch: "Victory" is a song that most Christians have been through. The Winans sang a line "it was you my brother…” Sometimes we may think that it’s people that are far away that will persecute, however, it’s those close to us that may talk about you or lie on you. The song says, “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord." It’s really about learning how to forgive one another and walking in love and victory that God has given us. When you do that, you receive the victory.

Carl B.: Prior to Commissioned, there were two groups: Saved and Sounds of Joy. Saved featured yourself, Fred Hammond, William Duncan, Darryl Ford and several members from Greater Grace. The other group was Sounds of Joy.

Mitch: Yes, Sounds of Joy and the Apostles.

Carl B.: So there were three groups?

Mitch: Yes, the Apostles featured myself, Fred Hammond, Tony Claxton (Bishop Anthony Claxton, pastor of Lifeline Christian Center) and Tony Horne.

Carl B.: So how did these three groups come together to form Commissioned?

Mitch: Fred and I went to high school together.

Carl B.: People talk about Mumford High School and the music teacher. What was her name and what did you learn from her?

Mitch: Her name was Mrs. Allen, we got excellence from her, and she would really push us. All of the Winans and all of the Clark Sisters would remember Mrs. Allen.

Carl B.: Mumford High School, home of the gospel singers.

Mitch: Yes, The Winans, The Clark Sisters, Derrick Brinkley all went to Mumford. Fred and I sang together in a talent show at Mumford. Keith and Karl were at the same church and they had a group called Sounds of Joy. Fred and I were singing in the group Saved, which featured Danny Birchette, Kelly, Darryl Ford, and William Duncan. Fred left Saved and began playing for the Winans; I left Saved and joined Sounds of Joy. I went back and told Fred about the guys and Fred said, “Let me spend some more time with The Winans so I can get some more experience.” When Fred quit playing for The Winans, he joined us. We were trying to think of a name for the group. Fred and I had been in the National Guard so as we were thinking of names. He made the statement, “we are Commissioned” - it’s something we have to do. Fred and I took that name back to Keith and Karl, and they liked the name. That’s how Commissioned was born.

Commissioned "Go Tell Somebody"Carl B.: I have a video of Commissioned at the Premier Center, with tuxedos and ruffle shirts…

Mitch: And Gumby hair cuts!!!

Carl B.: All of the members of Commissioned came from traditional holiness church. How did you transition from the traditional sound to contemporary artists?

Mitch: We wanted to be different; we didn’t come out in traditional suits or robes. We came out casual; just being ourselves. We were young and we wanted a contemporary sound. We combined the sounds of The Clark Sisters and The Winans, to create that contemporary sound. A male group with The Clark Sisters’ vocals. The Clark Sisters were ridiculous and they could do really great harmony.

Carl B.: At the Commissioned Reunion, as I listened, I was so impressed by the Commissioned harmony. Who was the main person behind creating the Commissioned harmony?

Mitch: It was a combination of Michael Brooks, Fred, and me. I used to sing harmony with everything on the radio. My brother, who used to sing with the R&B group The Dramatics, would tell me to always sing harmony with everything. In doing that, it sharpened my ear to harmony. I, along with Fred and Michael, would arrange vocals. Michael also played keyboards. He was phenomenal and would play great chords.

Carl B.: We talked earlier about the singers of Commissioned. How did Michael Brooks and Michael Williams become members?

Mitch: Fred had a band called Unit. It featured Fred, Michael Brooks, Michael Williams, and Michael Wright. They would play around the city for different events, like wedding receptions. Fred was the liaison to the band and I was the liaison to the singers.

Carl B.: People may not know Michael Wright’s other name.

Mitch: Mike "E."

Carl B.: You speak very highly of your wife of 19 years, Carlene, and your kids. How important is it for you to balance your family life with your recording career?

Mitchell Jones w/Wife , CarleneMitch: Very, very important. So many times we as ministers are married to the ministry and we lose sight of family. I believe if you put God first, that love affair for God should trickle down to the love affair I have for my wife. She should feel that God kind of love in my life, and my children should feel that. I believe in quality time. I don’t believe in being away from my family for months and months. I would like to do weekend dates so I can be home for my kids and my family. My kids are still in high school, and it’s very important that I spend quality time with them. It’s tough now in high school so it’s important that we teach our children how to love God with all their mind, soul, and strength.

Carl B.: We spoke earlier about Bishop David L. Ellis, and on your CD you speak very highly of Pastor Reginald Lane. How important is it for you to be pastored?

Mitch: Oh my God, it’s very, very important. I always tell teens to number one, be in love with God, and number two, that you’re connected to a church, so you won’t be out here wandering. When you’re not connected, the devil will see you by yourself, he can attack you with the many tricks that he has. But when you’re connected, it keeps you in line and it keeps you walking right. In a multitude of council there is safety. I believe it is very important that you have a pastor; you need to be subject to somebody and subject to correction.

Carl B.: Some might think, "I’'m a gospel recording artist, I don't need to be subject to someone," but you think that you should?

Mitch: Yes, I've been in this industry for over 22 years. I've seen so many people sing the gospel, but they don't live the gospel. When you have a pastor, a spiritual father, a covering, you have someone who can help you live the life that God has given you, because they are overseers of your life and they can help you live the life that God has given you.

Carl B.: Your new CD contains two tracks from the Praise & Worship CD "Beyond The Veil." When can we expect that project to be released, and what can we expect from that release?

Mitch: We're hoping to release the project around April or May of 2005. From this release you can expect. like I said earlier, I'm not here to promote Mitchell Jones. Jesus said, "I'm not here to speak of myself," so I'm going to follow what Jesus said. This album, "Beyond The Veil – Final Destination," I believe it's going to promote people to labor and to work for God until the work is finished. The songs are Outer Court songs, Inner Court songs, and Holy of Holies songs. I believe the songs will take you from the Outer Court to the Inner Court to the Holy of Holies, where we enter the rest of God and cease from our own works.

Carl B.: You have gone from being a contemporary gospel artist to a praise and worship artist. What has that transition been like?

Mitch: When I was in Commissioned, I didn't know who I was. I was very insecure, I was in the back, and I let the other guys be out front. I never wanted to push myself to be out front. The last 10 years, I’ve been at Dunamis Outreach Ministries, where my pastor, Reginald Lane, has been teaching me passionately about being equipped to worship. The Bible says that, "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things" (Titus 1:8). In other words, Godliness is simply worship; it's a godly fear and an intimacy with God, the kind of fear that causes you not to run from God, but to run to God. Through that relationship and that intimacy, that intimate walk with God, I learned that his perfect love cast out the fear that I have, and gave me my purpose, my significance, and security. It's all wrapped up in this knowledge of God. I've learned that through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the essence of God’s love. That's why I say it's my passion to live that and preach that, and to help the body of Christ to create an atmosphere in which there is transformation. Worship is transformational. God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his son, and worship is a tool that God uses for transformation. I believe that we need to come out of the transaction and get into the transformation.

Carl B.: Many secular artists talk of the influence of Commissioned. How does that make you feel?

Mitch: It's a good feeling to know that someone is influenced by you. I believe that it’s the grace and purpose of God in our life. Most natural people look at the natural, but it’s really a spiritual thing. God is using that natural thing to reach peoples' spirits. I believe that God used Commissioned's natural talents to draw them, and it's the love of God that draws them.

Carl B.: The guys from Commissioned were known for playing basketball. Do you still hoop?

Mitch: Yea, I still hoop a little bit. I've passed that over to my son; he plays at Mumford High School.

Carl B.: You ever play with you son?

Mitch: We work out a little bit.

Carl B.: Who wins?

Mitch: I still win, only because I’m stronger. However, that young man can shoot some hoops.

Carl B.: As we wrap up this interview, what advice would you give to a young person entering into the gospel music industry?

Mitch: As I said earlier, fall in love with God. Love Him with all your heart; that's all of who you are. And love Him with all your soul; which is all of what you have. Love Him with all of your might; that's all of what you do. Number two, be connected. Make sure you're under some spiritual leadership. And third, be excellent in your craft. We serve a God that is excellent, and he deserves our very best.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up “Still Commissioned; The Songs of Mitchell Jones,” I would advise that you do so right away. The CD is an awesome project that would be a great addition to your collection.

For more information on Mitchell Jones, visit his website at www.mitchelljonesonline.com



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