Artist Interview: Georgette Jones keeping memories alive through music
When you think of country music royalty, you think of the glitz and glam of the celebrity life. Fortunately for Georgette Jones, she has lived a fairly normal life even being the daughter of legendary country music singers George Jones and Tammy Wynette. In speaking to Georgette, you get the sense of a humble person that enjoys being surrounded by music. You also feel that she is honoring the memory of her parents, along with standing on her own. I recently got to speak with Georgette Jones about growing up in a music family, as well as honoring the memory of Tammy Wynette. You can check her out on October 19 at Bobby Mackey’s in Wilder, Ky.
Patsi Bale Cox helped you write your book, “The Three of Us,” a few years ago. Unfortunately she passed away, but is often thought of. How was it working with her?
I miss Patsi so much. She was such an incredible person on top of things such a talented writer. If it hadn’t been for her, there wouldn’t have been done the right way. I’m so happy to have met her and be able to work with her. She really was able to pull out what needed to be pulled out and not do or say anything that shouldn’t be. She was really very tasteful. She was amazing.
What would you say is the biggest misconception others would have of having parents that were considered country music legends?
I think automatically when people hear my parents’ names and they think about us, they think we’re very spoiled and we’re very over privileged; that we are spoon-fed, so to speak, people, that we would be stuck up. I think there are a lot of stereotypes that are put on, especially of children. They expect their children to have been really spoiled. Mom did not raise us that way. I’m not going to say or tell a lie. We had nice things. We lived in a nice home. But at the same time, mom had very strict rules at home. We had very old fashioned and strict rules to an extent that we all had chores to do to earn our allowance. If we didn’t make good grades and make our beds, or do this or that, we didn’t get our $5 a week or whatever it was to have spending money for extra things that we had to earn. I’ve had a job since I was fourteen. As an adult, you know I think a lot of people expect that just because who my parents are, we would still be catered to and have all this money. We’ve always been very independent. I’ve worked as a nurse. I’ve struggled to take care of two kids on my own when I was a single mom. I don’t think it’s nearly quite as glamorous lifestyle that people think that is. It’s just normal like everyone else. The only difference maybe is because of who they are we’ve been to places that maybe other people wouldn’t have. Honestly our lives are really much so not any different than everyone else.
Having being friends with others children of celebrity parents such as Tommy Cash, Shooter Jennings, and Michael Twitty, what have you learned from them?
It’s very interesting as we’ve done a couple of family gatherings at the RFD-TV “Country Family Reunion” shows. It’s like even though we haven’t seen each other in years, or even kids of people who maybe we’ve never met before that we met for the first time at these events, it’s almost like we automatically have this bond that existed. We immediately knew how the other person feels about a lot of things that other people just wouldn’t understand unless they grew up in that situation. There’s so many things that are different only because the media and that kind of thing. A lot in general with people are the same, but when it comes to the music business and the media attention, as well as some of things like their parents being gone a lot and all of that. It’s really neat to get to spend time with other people who are either siblings of other children of other country sings. It’s like we already know each other and we can understand what we’ve been through and the kind of things we’ve been exposed to. And they are great people. I’ve not met anybody that’s not been super sweet and fun to be around. So we have a great time to do things like that.
You recently did a tribute album in honor of your mom, Tammy Wynette. It’s surprising to find out that there really hasn’t been much mention of tributes or honors to Tammy over the years. You always hear of George Jones tributes, but rarely for Tammy. Do you think she’s been overlooked over the last few years as far as honors and tributes?
I think to a degree possibly yes. There have been some things that were done initially, almost immediately right after mom passed. People recognized her a little bit at the same time. Mom led such an incredible life. Not necessarily the one that people think that she led, especially toward the end when there was so much talk about her being sick and being so frail. People have this idea of her being so weak and frail for so long that they don’t understand that for most of her life it was the opposite of that. She was very strong and independent carefree woman who did so much on her own. She was so headstrong and stubborn in many ways and accomplished so much. I wish we had an opportunity to show more of that. We’re actually working on some things, hoping we can do that. There are some projects coming up the next couple of months that hopefully if it all works out well that I’ll be able to announce very soon. We are doing some things like that for mom because I don’t want people to forget about her. Certainly to remember her music but I also want people to remember her as a person and what a wonderful mom and person she was.
How would you describe the impact of Tammy Wynette and the personal interaction with the fans?
I think that is something that is very different today. Especially with social media and the way the internet is, and because country music has gone the direction that it has gone. There is so many people involved in everything that happens. They are overwhelmed and the artists are not able to respond to a million or two million or five million people. So they have teams of people who work on things. For mom, it was different. It was more personable. The fan club had literally thousands of people. Somebody may go through letters and stuff to help get through to mom. Mom always loved getting those things. Even at shows, back in those days, mom would stay after the show and shake hands, take pictures, and sign autographs and do that for hours on end. You just don’t see any more of that today. There are so many people that it’s become on such a different scale of things with media. I don’t know if it is even feasible as it used to be. Mom loved that and she enjoyed giving to her fans and being able to talk to people.
Where you hesitant to do the tribute album? Did you think others would compare you to her?
The main thing was that I wanted to do something to honor her and I’ve always loved mom’s music. I wanted to pick some things that people are familiar with, but I wanted to do some things that maybe they weren’t familiar with and make sure they heard those kinds of things. In putting it together, I didn’t much think about the comparison. Although I know it’s one of those things that people will compare doing mom’s music. It’s human nature that they will do that. Maybe at the time, 10 or 15 years ago, I would have never considered doing it for that reason. The older I get, the more I realize I do this out of the love for my mom and an honor for her. It was important for me to do that. Hopefully people will appreciate that music and whether or not they like me or compare me to mom in a positive way or not, hopefully it will still turn out to be at least a loving tribute. That’s the main thing that I wanted to do.
Having toured overseas, how would you compare the sound of country music and the fans as compared to here in America?
It’s very different. If you go to some place like Ireland, they really don’t care for any country music past 1980. They are really more into the older style, 60s-70s, and traditional style of country music. They love it. If you play something more modern, they are not at all interested. If you go to some places in England and some places in Europe, they have that culture that while they do love that older traditional country music, but they also have a culture that they don’t know what that is. When you mention country music, they automatically have an idea of what is that yet they like Keith Urban and others like that. They are not told that he is country. They associate him in another way by putting them on a rock station. They are exposed to it in an entirely different way. So you kind of have a little bit of both. You have those extremes kind of like we do a little bit. Ours is a little different with the more traditional country music here. It’s almost like you have a secondary market for Texas, or that kind of thing. Otherwise, it is very contemporary almost across the scale.
What keeps you motivated to continue singing and playing music?
Just my love for it; I’ve been singing since I was three on stage. I’ve been writing music since I was a teenager. I love it. I absolutely love music. I listen to all different kinds of music, not necessarily just country music or even traditional country music. I listen to lots of different people when listening to the radio. When it comes down to my writing, and what means a lot to me, I can’t help it but write country music when I write. I just love music in general and the whole process. I don’t think it’s something I could live without. I just enjoy it that much.
What do you look forward to playing at Bobby Mackey’s on October 19th?
My husband and I, and our band have been talking about this for a long time. We’re just very excited about the whole thing. Number one, they certainly have the reputation of having a great country club where you can actually go play traditional country music. People come out from everywhere for it and have a great time. We are looking forward to that, but we’re also looking forward to doing the ghost tour and doing all that. My husband and I love that kind of thing. We watch “Ghost Hunters” on tv. We are looking forward to doing all of those things, and to meet Bobby himself, and spend some time with all of them. It’s going to be great fun.
Be sure to check out Georgette Jones’ website at www.georgettejones.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Watch her live at Bobby Mackey’s on October 19th. More info can be found at www.bobbymackey.com
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.