Gospel musician and choir director Brent Jones calls Orange County, California, home, but the last seven weeks may have added another place to that territory of the heart.
Jones has traveled to Waco each of those weeks to prepare the 65-member Waco Community Choir for Saturday night’s concert at Victorious Life Church.
“After seven weeks, I feel like I’m from Waco,” laughed Jones, a nationally known gospel singer, songwriter and choir leader.
The Waco choir, which pulls its members from 17 area churches, will be doing more than providing musical support and worship presence for the 51-year-old Jones and his five-piece rhythm section: Saturday’s concert will be recorded and released later in the year as Jones’ second and latest live album.
It’s a follow-up to his 2014 album “Joy Comin’” and features nine new songs from the popular gospel musician and choir leader.
For Waco Community Choir members who’ve been working with the new material for the last seven Monday nights, Saturday night can’t come soon enough. “”He is an awesome writer and the Spirit is so high (in his songs),” said choir president Jeffie Sanders.
The California native first appeared on the gospel scene in the 2000s as the leader of the T.P. (Total Praise) Mobb, a West Coast gospel group with a decided hip-hop flavor. They released two Top 10 gospel albums before a move to the East Coast took Jones away from leading the group.
In 2014, seven years after his previous album, Jones decided to release “Joy Comin’” with his Orange County Mass Choir. It was a change of pace for some — “it was my Sunday morning sounds and some knew me for my urban sounds,” he explained — but a success nonetheless.
Over the last two years, Jones had crossed paths with the Waco choir in appearances in Bryan and in Waco, enough to leave an impression.
“I fell in love with the Waco Community Choir,” Jones admitted. “They are an excited, talented choir with lots of energy and charisma.”
When Jones decided to do a second live album, he reached out to WCC director Thomas Brooks and his choir, who agreed. Jones wrote several of his new songs with the Waco choir in mind, in fact. “They were the choir I heard in my ear,” he said.
Since the beginning of the year, the Orange County Mass Choir director has made weekly visits to Waco to work with the choir on songs and choreography. Days away from the recording, Jones couldn’t wait, either.
“Ten new songs and they are action-packed. They are fire,” he said. “If you love gospel, it’s really the place to be (Saturday night).”
Songs like “Forgive” and “Battlefield” were written with a message for today, he said, while his niece Shari Demby will be featured on “Jesus I Love You.” Judging from rehearsals, the Waco choir will rock “The Treasure In You,” he said.
Jones expects to return in September for a CD release concert tied to the new album. He’ll stay after Saturday’s concert to sign autographs and take pictures “until the last person leaves.”
While the gospel musician anticipates the new recording will contain a lot of energy and spirit, it’s doesn’t compare to being there in person.
“Expect excitement. Expect to jam. Expect to clap. Expect to sing. All of that,” he said. “This will be more fun than Bruno Mars.”