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Durand Jones explores his roots on 'Wait Til I Get Over'

Rahim Fortune

Durand Jones has spent the better part of the last decade fronting the contemporary soul group Durand Jones & The Indications, but in 2023 he’s striking out on his own.

His debut solo album ‘Wait Til I Get Over’ was released last week and is a loving tribute to his hometown of Hillaryville, Louisiana. It’s quite the departure from his work with The Indications, leaning away from disco, funk, and soul and moving more towards blues, r&b, and gospel music.

Jones recently caught up with WUNC Music’s Brian Burns to discuss the new record, performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Hertiage Festival, and more.

This is an excerpt of an edited transcript of that conversation. You can hear the full interview by clicking the LISTEN button at the top of this post.

Can you tell us a bit about what Hillaryville was like when you were growing up versus what it's like now?

Growing up in Hillaryville at the time, I didn't realize how special it was. I think because of the elders, the folks who saw Hillaryville in its height, and it's once pristine statue, it still held a certain air. And I think once I left and came back as a grown man, I realized that a lot of the traditions and things that made Hillaryville so special, were dying with the elders. So this project, in many ways, was a way for me to shed light on a little bit of the rural south in Louisiana.

The title track to the record is so beautiful. It's a traditional gospel song that you sing with a very large sounding choir. Can you tell us the inspiration behind that song and then how it was recorded?

Whenever I was a kid, we would do lining hymns in church. I should give context and let the folks know that Hillaryville is a town of maybe about 500 folks. The land was given to eight formerly enslaved men as a form of reparations after the American Civil War.

This plantation had over 500 slaves and 10,000 acres of sugarcane in three sugar mills, where the slaves were also processing and packaging the sugar. After the Civil War and during Reconstruction they started to build this community and the very first things they did was build churches and hotels and bars and schools and such just to be a sustaining community.

I would go to one of those two churches and we would do these lining hymns and as a kid, I absolutely hated it. I just thought that was so old fashioned, I would roll my eyes and just did not understand. After recently going back as a grown man, I noticed that they don't do those anymore. And it felt like a shame to me, because I now appreciate the traditions that the elders were trying to instill within me. So I felt like I needed to do something in homage to them on the record. I thought I was just going to make a demo, so I just set up a mic and sang all the voices. I tried to emulate characters that I would hear in church. It ended up being my favorite track on the record.

Durand Jones' 'Wait Til I Get Over' is available now on Dead Oceans.

Brian Burns is the Music Director for WUNC Music, WUNC's AAA music discovery station. He has been working within the local music scene for over a decade. On the weekends you might see him DJing at various spots around the Triangle, or digging through boxes of records. He's also the host of Future Shock on WUNC Music and a contributor to NPR Music. He graduated from UNC’s School of Information and Library Science with an MSLS in 2015.
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