Singer Donell Jones carved out a spot for himself in the genre of rhythm and blues that makes him unforgettable. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, Jones delivered hit after hit from “U Know What’s Up,” “Where I Wanna Be,” “Knocks Me Off My Feet,” and many more jams that have proven to stand the test of time.
In an exclusive interview with Atlanta Black Star, Jones, 47, discussed his comeback on the music scene after a seven-year hiatus to debut his “100% Free” project set for a December release on his CandyMan Music label.
Before releasing “100% Free,” Jones dropped his album “Forever” in 2013 and “Lyrics” in 2010, a period in his life during which he battled with depression, self-sabotage and a flood of life trials that seemed never-ending.
“I wanted to start becoming a better person. I wanted to start getting healthy; so, I stopped smoking cigarettes, stopped drinking, a lot of things were happening to me at that particular time in my life,” said the Chicago native, adding that in total he smoked for 30 years.
“The reason why I was gone for so long was that it took me a whole seven years to drop all of the things that were bothering me,” Jones admitted.
“I wasn’t having a good relationship with my wife as I should, my relationships in general with people, and I just really needed to focus on and find me. So that’s what it took, those seven years to find me. I’m happy with who I am today because of it.”
A believer in numerology, a divine relationship between a number and one or more events, Jones drew from his life experiences to build inspiration for the album.
“That’s why I named it ‘100% Free’ because I feel like we as a people and as a humanity, we have so many addictions towards so many different things that we need to become a little freer of those,” he said. “We over-consume things. It’s more of an addiction than it is a pleasure.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Jones managed to create his album by letting his creativity take control. “I’ll sit down at the piano, and I can’t create anything, and that’s because I’m not supposed to,” Jones said. “Then sometimes I get on that joint, and I’m 30 songs in because I’m just flowing,” he added.
To coincide with the seven years it took for the father of six to sober up, and the spiritual meaning behind the number 7, Jones plans for seven tracks on “100% Free.”
On what fans can expect, Jones mentioned “love” and some “banging” music. “I’ve always tried to make records where you can just put the joint on and just let it play,” he said.
“This will be no different than that. I do have a couple of inspirational joints on there. It’s not gospel, but it’s inspirational. It’s uplifting. I got some bedroom joints in there,” Jones continued. “I got a little club joint there. I’m doing this to make people feel good. I feel like music touches the soul, and that’s been my goal since I started this thing.”
He’s not stopping there either; Jones plans to release his next album,” Elevate,” sometime in 2021.
“It’s like the new beginning for me. That’s the other numerology number, eight, which represents a new beginning,” Jones said. “It will be a new beginning because I’m 100% free to elevate now.”
The songwriter has maintained his label CandyMan Music since the beginning of his career. His new work, “100% Free,” will be the third project released on his independent label following “Forever” and “Lyrics.” Distribution will be provided by eOne Music.
Jones worked exclusively, he said, on “100% Free,” without assistance from other producers and writers. “It was put on my heart to do it, and I just wanted to do it for free,” he concluded.