Home Leisure & Sports NMAAM honors Dr. Bobby Jones with Living Legends exhibition  

NMAAM honors Dr. Bobby Jones with Living Legends exhibition  

by Cass Teague
Dr. Bobby Jones (center) receives a  Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joseph R. Biden at the opening reception for his NMAAM exhibit, assisted by Saletta Holloway (at left) and Richard Manson (at right). (photo by Elle Danielle / MOJO Marketing)

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) unveiled its new exhibit, entitled “Living Legends: Dr. Bobby Jones” at an invite-only event on Sunday, January 15, 2023. The exhibit opened to the public on Tuesday, January 17th, and will be on view there through Saturday, April 15, 2023.

The legendary Paris, Tennessee native is a Grammy-award-winning Gospel singer, pastor, television host, radio broadcaster, and international diplomat. Dr. Bobby Jones has worked unyieldingly to bring his love for gospel music to the world. He loves the Lord, his family, friends, fans, and supporters. He also has a tremendous love for gospel music, television, radio, and stage. And he has sought to unite this world in peace and love and will always do whatever he can to contribute to the betterment of humanity.

Dr. Jones is a brilliant leader and a sharp thinker who has pivoted from a career as a professional university educator with an earned doctoral degree. He graduated high school at age 15 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tennessee State University, where he taught for 14 years while earning a doctorate at Vanderbilt University, before moving into his gospel music career full-time instead.

Museumgoers will experience four fascinating displays that commemorate his educational career, his historic Sunday Gospel show on Black Entertainment Television (BET), and countless honors and awards received throughout the four amazing decades of his entertainment career. The exhibit includes a monumental video testimonial from BET Founder Robert Johnson, who admits that the Bobby Jones Gospel Show was the essential financial driving force of the Black Entertainment Television network. 

“The exhibition is divided into four cases,” says exhibition curator Dr. Bryan Pierce. “The material provides information regarding his educational career, his time at BET, honors/awards he received, and his unique performance wardrobe. Items consist of clothing, trophies, a bust, and photos. Furthermore, a video testimonial from BET founder, Robert Johnson, will play on a kiosk beside the intro panel.”

photo by Elle Danielle / MOJO Marketing

Case 1 is devoted to Dr. Jones’ educational achievements, including his Vanderbilt Doctoral Hood and Gown, from when he was awarded his Ed.D. in 1989. Jones has many honorary degrees and an honorary doctorate hood and the certificate presented to him by Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, OH, along with his Tennessee State University Hood, from his Master of Arts in Education from 1965.

Case 2 is devoted to his BET Era, including a BET Award from his retirement in 2015; a BET Bust given to Dr. Jones to celebrate his 35-years on the network, the longest-running television show on cable. Also, one-of-a-kind items developed for his retirement from BET.

Case 3 holds a variety of miscellaneous awards, including a Legends Award; a Grammy for Best Soul Gospel Performance by A Duo or Group (1983); Bobby Jones and New Life Grammy plaque presented during NARAS Awards telecast (1983); a Gospel Music Album of The Year- Contemporary (Black) Dove Award; a Trumpet Award (2006); and a Thomas A. Dorsey Award of Excellence (1987), along with a collection of images of Dr. Jones at various stages of his career.

Case 4 is devoted to Performance, with a Black Gown with Silver Sequence worn by Dr. Jones, along with a pair of Dr. Jones’ signature Chanel glasses; and a replica of the Music City Walk of Fame Tile awarded to Dr. Jones in 2011.

Learn more at www.nmaam.org.

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