Bartholomew Jones teaches the next generation of Memphians by day, is a husband and father every second of every day, weaves in the creation of music in between, and is a constant student of culture throughout.
While it may seem like family, music, and teaching has to be compartmentalized to keep one’s own sanity, Bartholomew (@abartjones) merges everything together like a fusion of culture, compassion fueled by the finest brewed coffee the city has to offer. Really, his whole brand and essence is built around the mantra of #cxffeeblack: his way of encouraging people to skip the sugar and cream and be who they were made to be. He recently released a single, “SWTRWTHR”, which is perfectly timed and can be found on all major platforms. In his words, “SWTRWTHR was a lot about gratitude and trying to give people the reason for the season which is not buying stuff, and not getting a new ‘whatever’, but enjoying the people that you are with in this season and allowing that to be a present in and of itself.”
Growing up in Faronia Square in Whitehaven, Bartholomew seethes Memphis. From developing his songwriting chops in soul legend David Porter’s Memphis Music Consortium to grade-school ciphers with Chinese Connection, Bartholomew has gleaned from some of our city’s most influential artists.
“The experience in the Consortium and with David Porter was really really impactful for me because I felt like it was confirmation and information and made me look at my music and go through it with a fine tooth comb, and start to view life and musicality and creativity as a way of existence and a way of living and a lifestyle, not just something that happens sometimes… They helped me see the true value I was bringing to people and how to get that to people’s hearts.”
Jones headed north to Wheaton College in Chicago after high school where he continues his expansion of music and culture. Though he’d been freestyling rap bars since 12, Bartholomew gave vocal performance a shot through the Wheaton Gospel Choir, which not only took him across the states but led him to straight to his producer, Tommy RXCKiT, who he met over a game of spades.
Now, Bartholomew is at the heart of everything Memphis: an educator at Sherwood Middle through Memphis Teacher Residency, hip-hop teacher in Orange Mound and Christ United Methodist Church, and coming up as a versatile figure at the center of creativity and cultural production. Admitting that balancing teaching and creativity was tough, he gave credit to his wife and to coffee: “The busyness of teaching is why I love coffee shops, bro. I just get to sit here and think about this liquid. I get to sit and think about this one thing, then that opens my mind up to everything else. It’s hard, but my wife pushes me to think beyond the right now of district testing and struggles in the streets and everything.” When I asked what he wants his music to be about, he readily replied: “My whole vibe right now of what I wanna do with cxffeeblack is calling out the value inherent in people, and giving them visions of what their future could look like.”
As he continues to blur the lines between Bartholomew the musician, the teacher, the husband, the father, he left me with this: “The more I make music, the less of separation there is between me as the person and me as the musician.”