Artist of the day: The Rev. Arthur T. Jones
The Rev. Arthur T. Jones grew up singing in choirs and going to church in Tampa with his grandmother. By 1974 he was a member of the Tampa Mass Choir and, with friend Milton Biggham, set out to form the Florida Mass Choir.
The 200-member powerhouse included singers from churches in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. They performed at venues across the nation and caught the attention of gospel music producers who helped the group record its first commercial album, May the Holy Ghost Lead You. The choir sang gospel classics like Jesus Is Mine, and Florida Mass went on to record multiple albums until its dissolution in the 1990s.
In 1976 Jones helped bring the Gospel Music Workshop of America to Tampa for the first time. Thousands of artists descended on the city.
That convention is back in Tampa this week, bringing some 15,000 members of the gospel community to downtown Tampa. On Sunday, many of Jones' friends gathered at Bible-Based Fellowship Church in Tampa, where Jones is a pastor, for a concert paying tribute to the reverend.
"His songs have encouraged people," said Bishop Albert Jamison, chairman of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. "Who knows how many people in their sicks beds turned the radio on, heard one of his songs and because of it was able to make it through. Now it's time for us to be a blessing to him."
For more on the Rev. Arthur T. Jones, including his ongoing battle with multiple myeloma, click here for Sarah Whitman's story.