A humble native of South Carolina, Jones started his artistic voyage under the tutelage of his mother and grandfather, who were the lead singers in his church. A graduate of two prestigious institutions, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, Cleveland earned his degrees, but also engulfed himself in the study of music. He instantly fell in love with soul and jazz.
Cleveland’s debut album, Ace of Hearts, was released in 2013, and he was named SoulTracks.com's New Artist of The Year as a result. He’s performed at SOB's Sol Village Artist Showcase in New York City, in several shows with the ATL Collective in Atlanta, and most recently at Yoshi's in San Francisco, California.
Cleveland was kind enough to answer some questions before he joins us at Central.
What role have libraries played in your life?
Libraries have always been one of the most resourceful places in the world. They’ve allowed me to visit places I never thought I'd see, offered cultural experiences I never thought I'd witness, all through reading from the author's eyes and thoughts.
Which performers and albums have inspired your career as a musician?
I am hugely inspired by Bobby McFerrin, Rachelle Ferrell, Anita Baker, Donny Hathaway, and countless others who have helped to shape my approach to music. Bobby’s album Play with Chick Corea and Rachelle Ferrell's First Instrument are staples in my life.
Your song “Don't Leave Me” appears in the recent independent movie Echo Park. Many film critics said that the music used in the movie was an essential part of its charm. How did your song get chosen for the soundtrack?
This was a surreal moment in my musical career, for sure. My song was submitted nearly three years ago, before the film was officially released. A great friend of mine saw that filmmaker/DJ Tony Okungbowa was requesting music from independent artists. She submitted four of my tracks to him, and he picked "Don't Leave Me." To hear my song so prevalently used in the film really changed my life. Truly one of my hugest honors!
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a professional singer?
First, accept your own sound and be grounded in your mission, musically and in life. There is no "overnight" deal for fame, and be very careful how you treat people as you progress in your craft. Compete only with yourself and leave all other comparisons and judgment to others. This will allow you to be at peace and know your lane. Also, be assured that there is room for all artists to shine, so never think you're not as good as the next person. You were uniquely made and gifted.
What can our customers expect at your concert here at Queens Library?
Your customers, who I prefer to address as family, can expect an authentic experience of emotive music from my soul to theirs. A blend of jazz and soul and a hint of gospel will permeate the auditorium that evening, and I am honored to selflessly give my music to you.