b. Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S.A. Thelma Jones comes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her musical roots steeped in gospel. She was introduced into the music industry by her husband James Hazley, who had a record company called Uptown Productions in New York. Her first recording came in 1967 with the single 'Never Leave Me' on Barry Records. The single fared well on the R & B charts, so Jones remained at the label until 1970.
Thelma Jones comes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her musical roots steeped in gospel.
She was introduced into the music industry by her husband James Hazley, who had a record company called Uptown Productions in New York.
Her first recording came in 1967 with the single 'Never Leave Me' on Barry Records.
The single fared well on the R & B charts, so Jones remained at the label until 1970.
During those three years Thelma cut several sides for the label including the original version of 'The House That Jack Built', later recorded by Aretha Franklin.
Whilst at Barry Records, Thelma began working in New York.
At 20 years of age, she worked at the amateur talent show at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem as well as a showcase at Small's Paradise, also in Harlem.
These were the first moves from gospel into secular performances by the singer.
The success of 'Never Leave Me' led to her first major engagements at the Apollo, performing for one week and undertaking five or six shows per day.
Acts that appeared on the bill included The O'Jays, The Vibrations, Gene Chandler, Howard Tate and Big Maybelle.
These shows led to regular appearances at the venue moving on to larger venues such as the Shea Stadium alongside Kim Weston, Johnny Nash and James Brown.
After leaving Barry Records in 1970, Thelma was recommended to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, Wexler being a friend of Barry Records owner, Hy Weiss.
Jones moved to Atlantic who moved her to Muscle Shoals with Bobby Lance (the writer of 'The House That Jack Built').
The album, that had the rhythm tracks laid down there, was due to have vocals added in New York, however, they found Wexler out of town, so the album was shelved.
Jones left New York and moved to Tampa in Florida where she performed on the hotel circuit.
Through a friend of hers, George Chavous (a promo man from CBS), Thelma moved to the label.
She then set about constructing the 'Thelma Jones' album working alongside Brad Shapiro, the man behind many of Millie Jackson's, Wilson Pickett's and Joe Simon's major hits.
The first single was 'Salty Tears', penned by Teddy Randazzo, who also wrote Little Anthony and the Imperials 'Going Out Of My Head' and 'Hurt So Bad'.
The album was finally released in 1978 and featured the single alongside 'I Can Dream' written by Leon Ware, 'Lonely Enough To Try Anything', penned by Sam Dees and the popular rare groove tune 'How Long', written by Len Ron Hanks and Zane Grey.
The album featured artistic input from the late Gwen Guthrie amongst others.
More recently, Thelma has released two solo CD's entitled 'Close To The Ground' and 'Law Of Old', and been a diva on Sheryl Lee Ralph's 'Divas Simply Singing' event.
She has also appeared in music videos by Najee and Jackson Browne, as well performed in the Los Angeles area since her move to the west coast in 1980.
Thelma Jones is still performing and recording today.