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Questions for Rising Star Jontez


With the release of his first solo project "And So It Is" (see my full review at New Music) Jontez arrived on the scene with much buzz and plenty of talent. Writing and producing much of the project, Jontez proved that he is a force to be reckoned with and that the praise he has received so far for his work is well justified. "And So It Is" is a power packed CD full of pop-infused sounds with an R&B and Latino feel. This former member of God's Property began singing at the tender age of 14 and since that time he's received critical acclaim. The attractive, single, (yes ladies he is available) newcomer has caused several heads to turn for many reasons. Now he is launching his solo career and from the looks of things he is well on his way to the top.

I recently caught up with this exciting performer and put to him a few questions for my readers. I found him to be warm, candid and a breeze to interview.

Christian Music@Bellaonline
Ok tell me all about yourself. Is your full name Jontez?

Jontez
Well my real name is John Montez so I just combined the two and came up with one name. Jontez is what I go by.

CM@B
Ok. Now what nationality are you?

J
I'm Latin. My dad's side of the family is Spanish and my mother's is Mexican.

CM@B
Well you have such an urban flavor in your music so I wasn't sure if you had any African-American in you or what.

J
No and you know what's funny is that on top of that I grew up in Texas. So that's what even funnier. I grew up on a farm so I had the horses, cows and chickens the whole nine. That's kinda how I spent my entire childhood.

CM@B
Wow that's what's even weirder about your sound. I would think you would be into country music. I'm very familiar with that type of lifestyle because my husband grew up on a farm in a little town in Oklahoma. My kids are very familiar with that type of lifestyle because their grandpa had a farm and pigs and things.

J
Yeah see that was my grandfather too. That's really where I learned to do a lot like ride tractors. I was riding tractors at seven years old.

CM@B
Wow seven that's an awful early age!

J
Yeah kinda dangerous! (laughter)

CM@B
Well you have to get into the helpful mode when you are on a farm because everybody has to pull their own weight. I'm sure it's made you very self-sufficient.

J
Yeah and on top of that I was the oldest of my siblings so not only was I in charge of the farm but I had to take care of my brothers and sister. (I had) to make sure that they did their homework and things. My dad was a truck driver and my mom worked nights at Wal-Mart so...

CM@B
So it was just you running the show?

J
Yeah I was like a little grown up. (laughter)

CM@B
How many in your family?

J
There were five of us. Four boys and one girl.

CM@B
Oh boy I bet that girl had it tough! (laughter)

J
Yeah she had it tough and then she is the middle child. I wouldn't let the boys hit her though. I guess it was because I was taking care of everybody I took on that role of protector. I really enjoyed the whole experience and I learned a lot from it.

CM@B
Well that's good. Now Jontez tell me about this new project and what was the inspiration for it?

J
The project "And So It Is" that's the title. Well the inspiration for the whole album is that it's just my life period. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she asked 'What is it about your album that's going to make me want to go and buy it?' and it was a serious question. I thought well the thing for sure is that everybody has a story to tell. It doesn't matter who you talk to they have a story. And this album is simply my life story put to music. It's funny that we were talking about the farm experience earlier but with this album I had to learn to use the audio equipment myself, and had to do my own background vocals myself and basically produce my own project. I put my life experiences into it as well as me working everything in the studio that I had to work. What you hear on the album is me in the studio by myself with nobody else there and what comes out is what you hear.

CM@B
Wow so you did the lead and background vocals on there?

J
Yeah I did everything and it was great!

CM@B
Well you did really good. I love "I AM" (singing in my Jontez voice) I'm known as I Am I Am! (laughter)I can't get as deep as you. That's my little jam off the CD.

J
(laughter) Yeah that's cool.

CM@B
There is some really good music on here. You said this is your life story. What song on here really displays that or sums it all up?

J
Honestly, of course every song on here I put a different aspect of me on it but I would say, more on my testimonial side it would probably be the song "That's What You Said." The idea the title actually came from BeBe and CeCe (Winans) when Angie and Debbie would come to the stage and they would sing in a chorus "That's what you said, that's what you told me" referring to coming now back to God and his grace over us. So when I think of what I've gone threw in my life and how God has allowed me to run the course of my life and He's even allowed me to step out of his covering but yet still be covered by Him by His grace. I can always say that no matter what God you told me that you would never leave me nor forsake me. So when I say that's what you told me I'm going back to his word. So that always brings me back home. It helps me to realize that yes I'm doing wrong right now but you said that you would never leave me nor forsake me. It doesn't say that in my good days you weren't going to leave me but it says that you will never leave me. So that song really ministers to me and puts that hook right back in my mouth and just kinda jerks me to come back. That's definitely my testimony.

CM@B
You have a little bit of everything on here. (I explain to Jontez that I grew up in East LA and I know some Spanish and we chat about good Mexican food for a minute) You've got the Latin flavored songs on here is this being played in the Spanish markets?

J
It's not. I have to translate all of the songs for the Spanish market. I have a friend translating two of the songs for me "Can't Get Enough" and "I'm Not Alone"

CM@B
Yeah "Can't Get Enough" actually has some Spanish lyrics in it right?

J
Yeah

CM@B
Now you started out singing at 14. How did you start singing?

J
Well my family moved to the Dallas Fort Worth area and I started out with a friend of mine who was the music director on Wednesday nights over at the Potter House (Bishop T.D. Jakes church) and that's really where I got a bigger portion of my training. From the Potter's House I began to sing with God's Property. I sang with them for about three years. That was probably the greatest experience of my life. I learned a lot from them.

CM@B
What was some of the things you learned?

J
Wow just like the whole ensemble type of singing where you are really vibing off of each other on stage. That's something that we definitely did. The dancing and the choreography. It was just a lot of musical training I got. Robert Searight was the musical director and he would just have us singing all kinds of ridiculous cords that would take us probably about a day or two to figure out. He just taught us how to be more complex with the music.

CM@B
Now what happened with God's Property? Everybody was aware of the big lawsuit against Kirk Franklin. Where you a part of that?

J
No I actually came to the group as that was happening. That was actually why I was coming into the group because members were leaving and they still had dates to fill. So I came in as a temp and ended up staying there.

CM@B
Did they ever get everything settled?

J
Yeah they wind up settling out of court. I think it ended about three years ago.

CM@B
Kirk took a big hit for that and nobody really got the full story about that. The rumors were that he really wasn't paying anyone. Was that true?

J
It really wasn't him honestly. I think he took the majority of the blows because he was the public figure but it was the record company and that was the bottom line.

CM@B
Well now you are out here solo. What's it like being on your own after being in such a big group for so long.

J
I love that question because it is something that I have to deal with even still. I just now started to feel comfortable being up there by myself. I'm use to looking back and seeing Spud on the drums or the other singers. It has been an experience.

CM@B
What is it that you have changed about your performance since you are now by yourself?

J
Um not being so lazy. (laughing) That's just real because before if I felt like I was not getting the energy up with the audience then I could just pass the mike to someone else and let them do it. Now I can't do that. I have to be strong and handle them myself.

CM@B
Yeah now it's all you buddy!

(laughter)

J
Exactly!

CM@B
Now it depends on the audience but my personal experience with the black church crowd is that they want you to show them what you are working with honey! (laughter) They are not going to clap, shout or do nothing if they don't feel that you deserve it. (laughter)

J
(laughter) That is so true! It's so funny but I'm use to that type of audience because when I moved to Dallas for whatever reason that was the churches that we got invited to.

CM@B
Well listen to your sound! African-Americans just love that heavy drum beat and that Latino sound and you have that in your music.

J
Yeah I love going to a black church because I feel very comfortable there.

CM@B
Well once you win them over and you are out there moving and grooving and they are in the spirit then you really have them.

J
That's the thing! Especially for me because since I'm not (African-American) they would look at me and think... .’Oh he's gonna sing some Tijuana music' and I would actually get introduce by that because the musicians were two Mexican brothers and a Puerto Rican. We would have to go no we are not Tijuana musicians. (laughter)

CM@B
Have you ever been to Atlanta?

J
Yeah the last time I came was in 2000 and 2001 and that was with Bishop Jakes and the whole "Woman Thou Art Loosed" conferences.

CM@B
How come you didn't do Mega Fest this year?

J
I really wanted to but I wasn't able to make it.

CM@B
You have to make sure you make it next time. It's an awesome event. There is so much going on that at one point I really became overwhelmed. (laughter)

J
I'm definitely gonna try for the upcoming year. I know it's awesome.

CM@B
Back to the project what made you decided to name it "And So It Is" that's an intriguing title to me.

J
Well you know what, I would be interested in asking you when you read it how did you interpret that?

CM@B
Oh so now you are answering my question with a question hun? (laughter)

J
I know that you are the head of the interview but I would be interested in finding out what you think. (laughter)

CM@B
Well I think that what you mean by "And So It Is" is that you are saying here's is what I have inside of me and it is here for you to partake of it. I don't think that your album is the type that you can plug it in your car and get a nice little drive to and that's it. You're gonna feel the music and need to take it in to fully enjoy it. Especially on my jam I Am even if you are driving you have to groove to that tune. Now what's your take on it?

J
Well that's really good and almost on point! I think it's a very strong proclamation that I'm saying I've gone through what I've gone through and it's almost like these are the ingredients of my life. I'm gonna put it in the oven and when I take it out.."And So It Is" it's all right here. We can't take away from it or add to it. So it is what it is.

CM@B
It is what it is hun?

J
Yeah and it is what it is and I think again with everybody's life I look forward to the day when we as Christians can actually tell our A testimony. I believe we all have our A testimony and our B testimony and we always tend to tell our B testimony which is the easier, the sugar free testimony. It's the one that's gonna let people know you did something but not give them the exact ingredients it just gives the over-all (recipe). I believe that once we can start speaking the truth it's gonna really set us free. I'm hoping that even with this generation that we are in now that we can start speaking freely. Then we can say it's ok if you say whatever it is about your life and about your testimony. It's ok that you give us the realness of it because that's what gonna set the person next to you free.

CM@B
Well a bishop said to me just the other day that confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation. What's a truth about you that people would be surprised to know?

J
Honestly I grew up in the church. My grandfather was a pastor, all of my uncles were pastors and every facet of my life was in the church. I started our youth camps and I did our youth banquets. I was the oldest child and really had to set the example. I begin to be really really tired of that and it got to a point where I was disgusted with the fact that if anyone looked up to me I did not want to be that. I would rebuke that and I would say I don't care what God said or what man said and I don't want that position because it's too much pressure.

CM@B
So you started rebelling?

J
Oh I rebelled like you would not believe!

CM@B
How old were you?

J
When all that started happening it was in the latter part of my tens and early twenties. It wasn't something that happened just all of a sudden it was something that I grew into.

CM@B
Gradually.

J
Yeah like a gradual sliding back if you will. My mom would tell me 'You can't run from it. You can run but you can't hide" it would infuriate me. I did not accept it because I was so sick of it.

CM@B
Moms are wise.

(laughter)

J
Yeah as I look back on it I see where her heart was and what she was trying to get me to look at but I didn't want to see it. As human beings and people we get tired of that. I feel that we do I feel that we all go through our own rebellions. I mean I was going to the clubs and being promiscuous and doing all kinds of things that now I look and think what in the world was I thinking. That's why I say that even in my darkest hour I could truly say that God you said you would never leave me nor forsake me. Never means never and I had nothing to hold on but his word. That's what I did. I don't believe that we can see God's true beauty until we see how ugly we can be.

At this point Jonetz and I talk about how Christians often think that because they grow up in the church they take the love of God for granted. He says "In my mind I really believed that my music was going to take off because I deserved it." During his lost time Jontez stated he was allowed to see that he wasn't as high and mighty as he believed himself to be. He strayed far away from his faith but God brought him back into the fold and now he gives all praises to Him. It is his belief that if we are to follow Jesus we have to be crucified. "I don't really worry about my reputation because if I can't be real with what I'm doing than what is the purpose of it all?"

We finished up our chat and Jontez ended his "A Testimony" for me by saying that in terms of his music he wants it to stand up to the hip-hop influences that are out today. "I want them (my fans) to adapt my experiences to their experience and come out with something that only God can bless. I'm hoping that from this album it's not just something for Christian kids but for secular kids too." This debut project offers music for all and is a great beginning for reaching that goal of blending both worlds. To learn more about Jontez log on to www.jontez.net
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Content copyright © 2013 by Candace Walker. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Candace Walker. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Candace Walker for details.

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