Born and raised in Flint, Lakisha Jones grew up with a passion for music. At the age of five, she was already singing in the choir at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Later, she began performing in plays and singing in the choir at Flint Central High School. She attended the University of Michigan-Flint, majoring in music and graduating in 1998.
Her dreams of pursuing music became reality in 2007 when she competed in the sixth season of American Idol. She gained fans around the nation, even getting the notoriously harsh judge Simon Cowell to say he “loves this girl” after her passionate performance of “Think” by Aretha Franklin. Jones ended up placing fourth overall, giving her national notoriety and propelling her career forward. Immediately following season six of American Idol, she toured with the other finalists on the “Idols Tour.”
Since her time on American Idol, Jones has stayed busy with a number of other projects, including raising a family with her husband and their two children, Brionne and Ava LaRynn. In 2008, she was the church soloist in the Broadway play, The Color Purple; a vocal coach for MTV’s Legally Blonde: The Musical; and a contestant on the music competition show, The Winner Is. At this writing, Jones was preparing to perform with the Flint Symphony Orchestra at The Whiting on January 13.
MCM asked LaKisha to answer a few questions about her career, what lies ahead, and what Flint means to her.
How did growing up on Flint’s North side shape who you are today?
I think that my upbringing with my mom, my grandmother and my church family at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church instilled in me the value of hard work, dedication, focus, being a dependable person, and also just believing in yourself and having faith that anything is possible with God.
Are there any special people who influenced you?
Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Yolanda Adams.
What aspects of your career are most exciting?
Just traveling the world and being able to meet new people and touch them with the gift of song.
What goals/projects are you most focused on right now?
Singing with the Flint Symphony Orchestra! This was a long time coming. It was ten years since I took center stage in my hometown. Being able to go back home and see old friends and teachers and people who believed in me and invested in me is a real treat. It also makes me a little nervous, as well. I’m also focused on my new show that I’m getting ready to produce – “To Whitney With Love” – a tribute to Whitney Houston.
What career achievements are you most proud of?
All of them! I’m very proud that I was able to follow my dreams and make a better life for me and my children.
What do you hope for the future of your career?
I hope that my career is long-lasting, that I’m able to accomplish all of my heart’s desires, and still impact and touch people through my gift of song.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Watch TV and rest!
What do you hope for the future of Flint?
My hope is that there’s an immediate healing for everything that the families in Flint have gone through. My hope is that they’ll keep the faith, be encouraged, that they would not give up and that they would also, as a city, reach their maximum potential. Also, I would like to say to the City of Flint that we are not defined by being from Flint. I believe that the City of Flint produces great talent, great people and strong people. We are all individuals who can accomplish great things!
Photography by Eric Dutro and provided by LaKisha Jones