Note that in the print edition, the author says in this story that C-Bone Jones will appear May 28. That is an error; he will be at Santiago's Thursday, May 26, and Sunday, May 29, as stated in the calendars.
Spoken word is in full effect here in the Capitol City, with many venues already firmly planted and other spots on the rise. On May 26, Santiago's is hosting a poetry slam in collaboration with HBO Def Poet C-Bone Jones. He'll be kicking off National Black Music Month and his Spoken Word Soul Tour in Jackson. Christopher "C-Bone" Jones is a pro-baseball player turned poet who lives in Atlanta and spends his time writing scripts and television pilots as well as finding diverse quality roles for women of color in Hollywood and Atlanta. He operates under his company Bread N Butter Productions.
Tell me about C-Bone Jones.
He is for real. I am real about what I write. I write to let people know there is a different type of spoken word. All of my work is done for quality. C-Bone stands for "continue being original and never envious."
Who are some of your poetic influences? Do you have a favorite poem?
Nikki Giovanni, Marcus Garvey, Scarface, Ice Cube and Tupac. I like people who use their words to teach. I don't have a favorite poem. I am a lyricist: I have favorite words and phrases.
As a performer, how do you read your audience and tell that your energy is being projected and felt by the crowd?
I have a gift from God. For me, being on stages, I know what works and what doesn't. I look at who I am talking to. If it's a group of kids, then I don't want to do a piece that is full of profanity. If people see a certain comfort level in my performance, then I get that response. I like to participate with audiences a lot, engage them in my piece.
What feeds your creative spirit. What keeps you inspired?
Writing is a habit—trying to make changes, trying to show people that spoken word is not a passing fad. I want it to be accepted by the world of hip-hop and the masses. Spoken word is the first element of hip-hop. I let people see what can be done with spoken word.
Why did you choose Jackson as the starting point for National Black Music Month and your Spoken Word Soul Tour?
I have family in Mississippi. My father is from Vicksburg, and my mother is from Columbus, but I was raised in L.A. Coming to Mississippi is like coming home. Jackson has a growing market for spoken word. I want to come and inspire people even if I only inspire one person. I have a fourth CD completed called "Feel the Passion." It's hip-hop combined with poetry, and I will be putting it on the street in Jackson to get my name out.
Can you talk about the transition from being a baseball player to becoming a poet?
I think I was a poet first. In junior high, I was a rapper. I have always been a good athlete, which is the side my family knew, but when I was away from my family, I was a rapper at school. Three days after I got to Florida to play baseball, I picked up a pen because I missed my family and friends. I fell back in love with writing again. Then I had my ankle injury. The transition was difficult because when I was playing baseball the money was good. The transition was cool because the struggle created some of my best work. I don't regret being a writer because this is what I'm suppose to be doing.
What is something interesting that you have observed through the years of about being a part of this scene?
What is so interesting is that it is so big, but it's so small. You can go to any city and find a venue, but there is a 50/50 chance it will be a hundred people or zero people. Another interesting thing is that it is a big soap opera. The longer you stay, the more you'll see.
Tell me about your most memorable spoken-word experience. Do you have a favorite place you like to perform?
The Def Poetry experience was an amazing rush. One room has the seats filled from front to back, everyone enjoying what you are saying. Another room is filled with artists listening. Every venue has its own nostalgia. I like a venue were I can buy a drink.
Describe the art of "word pimpin."
Making money for the words I put together. Promoters try to pimp us because there is never money involved. I choose when I use my words and at what venue. You have to actually pimp the word, making what you write work for you.
What is one thing most people don't know about C-Bone Jones?
That C-Bones Jones is a genius.