The tiny town of Markham, Texas is home to 2.3 square miles of land, just over 1,000 people and Bishop Fred A. Jones’ Mt. Zion Pentecostal Cathedral. Mt. Zion is, in turn, home to the Jones Family Singers, consisting of Jones, five of his daughters and his two sons (among others). Veteran practitioners of electrifying southern gospel, the Jones Family has only recently found the ears of those much beyond Markham.
“You guys are the perfect soul group for atheists,” longtime Texas music writer Michael Corcoran lovingly told Jones a few years ago. Corcoran had been attempting to steer Jones toward a more secular sound in hopes that his family would find a wider audience. Jones, a devout preacher, politely declined. But after Corcoran attracted documentary filmmaker Alan Berg to Jones’ story and music producers John Croslin and Eric Friend came on board, Jones dipped his toes in the secular waters.
The resulting album, 2014’s The Spirit Speaks, took the Jones Family not just beyond Markham, but all the way to Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and into the pages of The New York Times. At the same time, Berg’s documentary, The Jones Family Will Make A Way, premiered at SXSW this year.
Along the way, they recorded their second album, Live from Mt. Zion. Recorded live with minimal gear in the modest Markham church with no air conditioning, both heat and thunderstorms raging outside, the album captures all the energy, sweat, heart and immediacy this kind of music deserves.
“Door of the Church” serves as a prime example of this galvanizing sound. Jones’ riveting, heartfelt spoken-word introduction makes an impassioned plea for peace and tolerance in these troubling times. Soon, the band starts to rumble and shimmer as Jones reaches fever pitch and begs his congregation again and again to “do it with excitement.” Then, the band kicks in as Jones and his backup singers remind us that the “doors of the church is open, come on in” over a steady, rolling groove of jaunty guitar and swinging drums.
While the track won’t actually be on the album, it will be available as a single and will be given, instantly and for free, to all those who pre-order the album (starting on June 26). But you can stream “Door of the Church” now, above.
Look for Live from Mt. Zion‘s official release on July 24 and find the Jones Family Singers on tour across the globe—a long, long way from Markham—through the fall.