RIP Def Jams’ Pastor JE Jones: Uptown Records Rap Executive

A major record executive with Def Jams and Uptown Records, Pastor James E. Jones A.K.A. PJ, died on Sunday, February 22, near Atlanta, Georgia. While today’s legends are Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, musical acts of the mid-1990s like P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Heavy D, and Montell Jordan all had Pastor J.E. Jones to thank for some part of their careers. Pastor J.E. Jones’ death and funeral were announced on Twitter and Facebook by his widow and co-pastor of his church, Caron Jones.

When Pastor J.E. Jones was a part of Def Jams Records, it was headed by co-founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons — but there is no online evidence of formal condolences from his former bosses. Regardless, this does not mean that the music industry forgot about Pastor J.E. Jones after he retired from Rap and R&B to focus on Gospel music.

Pastor J.E. Jones’ death has not been formally announced outside of the Rejoice In the Word Church, and no cause of death has been discussed. Online, Pastor J.E. Jones is being remembered by members of the music industry and friends in his church.

Rodney Jerkins, a producer for Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, was one of the first to tweet about the death of Pastor J.E. Jones. Jerkins also posted a heartfelt memory about meeting Pastor J.E. Jones when he first came on board at Uptown Records. Jerkins states the following on Instagram.

“#RIP to the man who took me out of high school to come work with him at Uptown Records on one of my first projects @ho1brown album as well as Patti Labelle and many others! I learned about melody from this man! When he was head of A&R at Uptown my dad told him he would be a preacher some day. About 10 years later I got a call from him saying tell your dad he can see. I said what are u talking about. He said I’m a Pastor in ATL now. You’ve touch many lives and brought many to know Gods true and living word. Praying for your wife and 2 kids! Gone way too soon! Gonna miss u man! #RIP Pastor James Jones!!! [sic]”

Who is Pastor J.E. Jones and where are the online references to R&B and Rap superstars? In July, 2010, Pastor J.E. Jones released a gospel album called on Ultimate Entertainment Records called “Fire.” According to the press release by Affrodite, “Back in the ’90s, J.E. Jones was one of Russell Simmons’ key Vice Presidents at Def Jam Records where he was A&R Executive on projects featuring R&B superstars ranging from Mary J. Blige and Montell Jordan to rapper Heavy D. Now, J.E. has stepped from the wings to center stage by releasing his debut solo gospel album entitled Fire, a blend of Hip Hop and R&B flavored gospel beats through his very own label, Ultimate Entertainment Records.”

After the debut of “Fire,” Pastor J.E. Jones went on to produce his niece, Anastasia, who is a rising star in the Gospel Music world. When Pastor J.E. Jones announced that he was going to be working with Anastasia, he released a press release about his career and a new album called “Dig in Me.” Pastor J.E. Jones was noted in the 1990s for his role as Executive Producer for the soundtracks for Rush Hour and The Nutty Professor.

Despite being very successful in the 1990s with Def Jams and Uptown Records, Pastor J.E. Jones said in that press release that he was lonely and states the following.

“I had everything-cars, a beautiful house-but every day I would wake up with such a huge void. I would go home at night and cry.”

The invitation to go to church with his aunt revealed to Pastor J.E. Jones that his heart was with the church and being a part of Gospel music. Over the decade leading up to his death, Pastor J.E. Jones was active in the careers of Mary Mary, Tye Tribbett, Dorinda Clark Cole, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Bishop Eddie Long & Friends, and Dr. Juanita Bynum.

About the transition from Rap and R&B to Gospel music, Pastor J.E. Jones says on his Over and Above website, “I think you can touch so many more people outside of the pulpit through music. It is our job to move beyond the podium and try not to reach the saved, but the also the unsaved.”

On the @RITWChurch Twitter account, the last tweet before Pastor J.E. Jones’ death quotes Matthew chapter 6 verses 16 through 18.

“(16) When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (17) But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, (18) so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Pastor J.E. Jones’ church has arranged a ceremony that they call a “home-going” celebration for the death of their beloved leader. The details for the ceremony according to the Rejoice In the Word Church Facebook page include two days. The viewing for Pastor J.E. Jones is Friday, February 27, in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The home-going celebration will be held on Saturday, February 28, at the Ray of Hope Church in Decatur, Georgia. Anyone that wants to send a donation on behalf of Pastor J.E. Jones can send it to Rejoice In the Word, P.O. Box 1665, Snellville, Georgia, 30078.

[All images via the referenced links.]

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