Willie Jones Brings His ‘American Dream’ to ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ [Watch]
Fast-rising country newcomer Willie Jones made his late-night debut on Monday (March 8) on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, performing "American Dream," a stand-out track off of his recently released debut album, Right Now.
Jones describes "American Dream" as "a patriotic anthem from a young Black man," something that he says he looked for and could never quite find -- particularly in country music -- as a young kid growing up in Shreveport, La. "All the crap that was just brought to light this past year, it just really made me want to get it out," he says of writing the song.
The lyrics of "American Dream" serve as a tribute to the ancestors and social activists who came before Jones, and they also establish his place as a protestor in the continuing fight for equality for Black people in America and beyond.
"Proud to be a Black man, livin' in the land of the brave and the free / Yeah, I'm all-American, and that American dream ain't cheap," he sings in the song's chorus. "We've come a long way, still got a long way to go / When you're livin' as a Black man, it's a different kind of American dream..."
Onstage during his The Tonight Show debut, Jones performed in front of a montage of artistic renderings of Black leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and Colin Kaepernick, as well as the names of Black people who have died at the hands of white authorities, such as Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland. The imagery and aesthetic recalls the music video for "American Dream," which includes anime stylizations of some of the same historical figures and follows a young Black boy as he turns into an animated superhero.
Jones first made an impression on fans back in 2012 as a contestant on televised singing competition The X Factor. During his time on the show, he impressed judges including Simon Cowell and Britney Spears with his cover of Josh Turner's "Your Man." "American Dream" is one of 12 tracks on Right Now, which arrived in January.
Shortly after his Fallon appearance, Jones shared some big news: He's now signed to Sony Music Nashville, in partnership with The Penthouse. Billboard broke the news on Wednesday (March 10).
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