AMORY – Donald Jones Sr. has an uncle and a great-uncle who were both named George Jones, a CD of his takes on 11 ‘90s country super hits and enough life experience through spurts with the law, ex-lovers and his trusty 10-year old dog to pen a catalog of his own personal hits.
What he hasn’t had for the past several years, though, is time spent at a place where he once basked in the spotlight – Monroe, Lee and Lowndes counties’ karaoke scene. His banker, Hozay Hausley at Aberdeen’s Renasant Bank, has been encouraging Jones to refocus on his dream.
“Sometimes in life when you’re running in a dream, it’s good to lay your dream to the side and help someone else. That’s why I like working with Renasant Bank is the customer service we give. Sometimes you think you know your client but when you discover they have a talent, you cheer them on and say, ‘You’ve got a nice voice and you need to be heard.’ Hopefully one day, he’ll be discovered,” Hausley said.
In 1998, following a karaoke competition at C’s Lounge, Jones won four free hours of studio time at Big Mama Recording Studio outside of Knoxville, where he sang his version of country anthems such as “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “That’s My Story (And I’m Sticking to It)” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox.”
“I sing from the heart, and that’s what won me that studio time,” Jones said.
On a side trip to the studio, he proudly recalls getting cheers from attendees of the Tennessee State Fair by singing karaoke to John Michael Montgomery.
Closer to home, he fondly thinks back to his prime singing karaoke at places such as VFW Post #4490, the 45 Club and the Pop-A-Top.
“Hozay has always been a good listener and he has helped me out when I’ve been down. He’s always a thoughtful person and a big inspiration to me. If there’s anything I can’t say any better is I’ve always let it be known I’m a singer, from the age of 9 to the age of 58,” Jones said.
He got his first record player from Lann Furniture while living in Aberdeen and sang Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Tanya Tucker’s “Delta Dawn” and Al Wilson’s “Show and Tell” during a fifth-grade talent show, which sparked his drive to perform in front of people.
Jones has written a notebook full of songs about failed relationships, bouncing from one karaoke bar to another, catching his first fish at Sunset Point and the life he’s lived. With continued encouragement, he hopes to put his voice to them with accompanying background tracks and get back in front of audiences where he’s a big star.