Jessy Dixon: The giant of gospel

Thursday 1st February 1996

He's worked with everybody from James Cleveland to Paul Simon and down the decades been acknowledged as one of the giants of gospel. Jessy Dixon spoke at length to Mike Rimmer.

Continued from page 2

As well as the miracles, the move of the Holy Spirit also has an impact on Dixon's ministry. Like many worship leaders he is now experiencing God breaking in powerfully and interrupting what he has planned. Does he feel insecure? "I love it!" Jessy says emphatically. "It makes you grow because you have to be sensitive, you have to be aware. All while you're doing a song you have to be listening and asking, 'What next God?' The people don't know this! They think that you're smart and clever." He breaks off into a chuckle and then continues, "But you're standing there waiting for instructions, waiting to hear what the next song or message or scripture should be and that's exciting to me." All this leaves me thinking that this new spontaneity must keep the choir on their toes. "Oh man!" laughs Jessy. "Especially the new ones because they don't know WHAT we're going to do! But that's what makes them want to stay in the choir because it makes them so sharp and quick. It helps them in every area of their life. It makes their senses keener."

In the 90s Jessy has worked mainly with the reformed Chicago Community Choir to pass on some of his knowledge of gospel music and pass on his wealth of experience to the next generation. He is also investing in younger singers from the choir and encouraging them to go solo in the same way that he did earlier in his career. Dixon is obviously proud that the first song that the choir recorded, "I Am Redeemed", is still on the Billboard chart a year after it was released. They have recorded two live albums and their success means that Jessy is continuously on the road performing with the choir. "We've been to Europe I don't know how many times in the last year; in fact I've done more concerts in Norway than anyone! I made history because I do 30 concerts at one time. Norway was the first country to open up like that and now Germany and Sweden and of course we've finally been to England."

Moving from his music to his personal life, I wonder if he is married. "To my ministry! Every time I think I'm going to get married, it's always marriage or the ministry so I am looking for the person who won't be intimidated by what I'm about." Jessy is reluctant to admit how old he is so I suggest to him that his album covers portray a deceptively youthful Dixon. He laughs, "That's what everybody says!" I decide to let him continue to be cagey about his age!

It's clear from his performances that Dixon is more than just a singer. The gospel is very important to him and often he could be more accurately described as a singing evangelist. He agrees. "I don't plan it that way but I guess my point is why sing the music and not understand what the message is about so I will stop singing and try to exhort the people to understand that what's behind all of this singing and travelling, the hard work and the three hour concerts is more than just trying to make somebody applaud or respond on an emotional level to what we're doing. There's a spiritual level that will go home with them when we're no longer there and that's important to me, that they catch that message and vision of what we're doing and what we're all about." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Mike Rimmer
Mike RimmerMike Rimmer is a broadcaster and journalist based in Birmingham.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Yvette Samuels in Florida @ 05:07 on Aug 2 2019

I am amazed with Jessie’s performance and gospel songs. I can not stop listening to him. I wanted to learn everything about him . I feel blessed that I was able to discover his music. I sleep in piece while listening to his songs almost every night . He touches my soul and helps me to walk closer with Jesus. I am able to face my trials and tribulations knowing that my soul is with the almighty God . Thank God for all the blessing We are receiving through Jessie’s legacy

Posted by laura Patten in usa @ 01:08 on Dec 5 2015

Thank you so much for clarifying that, many questions i have had about Jessie's life and you cleared it up, you see, i cannot stop playing his music and believe in my heart that he is reaching down from heaven to comfort me in my time of need as i am going through some difficult, evil times in our family and i kept seeing him in my dreams thats why it's important to know he was totally devoted to God. Blessings my brother !

Posted by Joe in Brooklyn NY @ 23:40 on Feb 19 2015

Oh my goodness, If only our gospel singers today were anointed like that! I am anointed but I am always asking God to anoint me with a double portion of Jessie's anointing when I sing. I believe that God has answered my prayers because I have noticed that some shifting is taking place in my singing and in my playing. Jesus said: He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Jessie Dixon is alive and kicking. Thank you Jesus.
Evangelist: Joe "Country" Greenidge.

Posted by Eva A da Silva in Campo Grande - MS (Brasil) @ 12:05 on Jan 26 2013

Muito boa entrevista. Fiquei conhecendo um pouco do testemunho da vida desse grande cantor que descobri em novembro de 2012 e fiquei impressionada pela unção que passa até pelas gravações, mesmo já estando com o Senhor.

Posted by sue baker in cambridge UK @ 00:01 on Dec 19 2010

who is jessy dixon mother and father? I need to know this.

Reply by Rose in london uk @ 20:56 on Aug 9 2014

Jessy and Viola

Sister - Miriam and one late one
Brother - Ralph

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