Sponsored by the Kirby Cultural Arts Complex – Fifty-four years ago, 30-ish year-old Frances Torain…
By Shaundria Williams
Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to speak with North Carolina’s own Ruth La’Ontra (pronounced Lah’Ontrah). She’s the daughter of radio pioneer Bishop Arvetra Jones—who’s also the president of the North Carolina Gospel Announcers Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America—and Mrs. Ruth Jones. Her grandfather, the late Apostle Arvetra Jones, Sr., was a recording artist as well; so it seems accurate to say that music is in her blood.
Our conversation was like talking to a cousin on the porch in springtime as the sun sets just beyond the trees. La’Ontra’s got such a sweet spirit and a playful personality; but don’t let the giggles fool you. This young lady is serious about her Kingdom Assignment!
Her debut album, So Good boasts four self-written songs, including the title track: “Speechless,” “I’m In Love With This Man,” and “I Believe.” Of her songwriting process, La’Ontra explains, “I try to keep the song in a storyline, in order to express what I am going through.”
“Speechless,” for instance, is the first track on the project, and it is an energetic song of worship fit to minister at any sports half-time show.
QUICK SOAP BOX: Before the Pharisee in you comes out because of her vernacular, yes, some of the lyrics in the chorus are “my Father, my best friend, my boo.” To that I say, “AWESOME!” Really, it is, because if you understand what it truly means to be “booed-up” and if God has ever come through for you in a very real way, you get it. To those who still don’t get it I’ll just encourage you to get booed-up with Jesus, ask Him to be the true LOVER of your soul, then you’ll sing along with Sis. La’Ontra.
The entire So Good project is hip and young with nuances of The Clark Sisters, Kim Burrell, Beyoncé, Bilal and Ledisi. La’Ontra’s producer Bubby Fann translated the images in La’Ontra’s head into hot beats, smooth transitions and mellow lulls. He also wrote her first single “Count it All Joy,” which has swiftly made its way up the charts. Her brother, Arvetra Dominic “Dom” Jones, and sister, Princess Jones added “I’ll Trust You” and “I Got This” to this dynamic project. If you are nervous about doing something that God has placed in your heart, put that last one I mentioned on “repeat” and get it done. The full collection of songs is sure to encourage and uplift you.
Beyond her music, La’Ontra reveals that she wants to develop programs for women and children who have been affected by domestic violence. While she doesn’t have a personal history with domestic violence, she has seen the effects and wants to provide an avenue for women to express their feelings and leave with hope. Maybe in some way, this actually works in tandem with her desire “to go outside of the four walls of the church and minister to the mainstream while maintaining gospel roots and go wherever God’s footsteps lead.” I am positive that wherever God leads the young twenty-something songstress, it will be so good.
Libra Nicole Boyd, PhD is a musician, award-winning author, gospel music aficionado, and the founder and editor of Gospel Music Fever™. Her commitment to journalistic integrity includes bringing you reliable gospel music content that uplifts and advances the art form. Libra is presently working on several scholarly projects about gospel music in the media as well as gospel music in social movements.