Bobby Jones

Henry County native and renowned gospel musician Bobby Jones will be awarded the state’s highest award for artistic achievement next month in Nashville.

Jones, a gospel singer based in Nashville, is one of 10 recipients scheduled to receive the 2015 Governor’s Arts Award on March 17.

The award for outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Tennessee will be presented by Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam.

Jones will receive the Distinguished Artist Award for his career as a gospel singer, composer and choir leader.

A Henry native, Jones has released 14 albums and has toured internationally.

Called “a torchbearer for gospel music in Tennessee” by the governor’s office, Jones has received numerous awards including Dove and Stellar awards, as well as a Grammy for his duet with country singer Barbara Mandrell, “I’m So Glad I’m Standing.”

The writer and producer of “Make a Joyful Noise,” called the first black gospel opera, Jones is the founder of the Nashville Super Choir, the gospel group he continues to lead.

In 1980, he began televising “Bobby Jones Gospel,” the longest continually running show on cable television. The show airs on Sunday mornings on Black Entertainment Television.

Also receiving the Distinguished Artist Award will be well-known blues guitarist, singer and songwriter B.B. King, and iconic country music vocalist and songwriter Loretta Lynn.

Other nominees include Cormac McCarthy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, and Mary Costa, an opera singer who has performed around the world, as well as voicing the title character in Walt Disney’s classic movie “Sleeping Beauty.”

Receiving the Arts Leadership Award will be Bill May of the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts; Scott Niswonger, philanthropist; and Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis.

Billy Henry, an Oak Ridge-based whittler and woodworker, and Jack Martin of Selmer, maker of Hockaday Handmade Brooms, will receive the Folklife Heritage Award.

Established in 1971, the Governor’s Arts Awards is produced by the Tennessee Arts Commission, the state agency tasked with cultivating arts for Tennesseans.

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