As friends, family and well-wishers continued grieving the death of Alabama pastor and gospel singer Shawn Jones on Wednesday, some claim the beloved preacher had been struggling with his heart in recent months but refused to curtail his intense ministry schedule.
Several attempts to clarify Jones' health status prior to his untimely death Saturday at The Event Center in Pensacola, Florida, went unanswered Wednesday. Responses from his manager and his grieving bandmates from Shawn Jones & The Believers were still pending at press time.
Commenting on a video of the 32-year-old preacher's final performance, however, Matt Write said as recently as October, Jones was hospitalized due to a heart-related illness.
"He was hospitalized over an 'issue with his heart' as he said on his live last month. When he got out of the hospital, he went straight back to performing 2 days later. Didn't take any more time off to rest. He was extremely dedicated to performing the gospel and he'll be forever missed," Write said of Jones, who led New Thing Empowerment Church.
Public access to Jones' Periscope Live and Facebook live videos were disabled on Wednesday so The Christian Post could not verify this claim independently.
Writing on The Old Black Church blog, Von Brown said he is related to a member of the Believers band and that Jones was warned by doctors about eight months ago to slow down after he suffered a blood clot.
"One of the members of the Believers is my cousin, you are right, massive heart attack, due to blood clot," he said of why Jones died.
"He had suffered a blood clot about 8 months ago. But he pulled through and kept singing, even after Dr. warned him to stop. He replied to Dr. if I got to die, I want to die singing and preaching. And, he did. RIP Shawn Jones, and sing on in the heavenly choir," Brown added.
About a year ago, Jones posted a photo of himself on Instagram getting treatment at a medical facility but did not indicate what the treatment was for. He only noted: "Down one day... right back up the next day! If I was the devil I'd hate me too!! #iWontBeDefeated#AChargeToKeep."
Family members described the gifted singer and preacher as a driven individual who never liked to laze around.
"It was always what he wanted to do. It wasn't a job. It was his passion. He was driven and he was driven by his passion and wanted to reach as many people as he could. So I think it was his drive that kept him going," Jones' cousin, Brandy Lee-Harris, told The Christian Post.
Another of Jones' cousins, Yashica LaRease Williams, who said he suffered a stroke, recalled how she asked him to take life a little slower last week and he promised to slow down.
"It's hard to wrap my head around the thought that I will never see your smile again. I was just joking and talking to you Tuesday telling you, 'You need to sit down somewhere' and your response with a big grin was 'I promise I'm going to slow down lil cuz' and we both laughed and I said, 'No you won't. You'll be in another state by the weekend.' And you laughed and said 'you 'bout right,'" Williams wrote.
Kenneth Woodson, manager of The Event Center, said Jones and his band had only been on stage for about 10-15 minutes before he collapsed and never revived on Saturday night.
"This fellow was blowing. It had a little jazzy feel to it and this was my first time hearing him but I was very impressed. I said 'wow, this is gonna be nice. I can't wait to hear some more music from this guy and his band.' They were tight," Woodson told CP.
"I guess the young man got hot. He took some water and he drank some more water (for a second time), sat down and was speaking and he passed out," Woodson said.
A day before his death, R&B singer Charlene Keys, popularly known as Tweet, was so moved by a video of the preacher singing, "I've Come Too Far to Turn Around," she shared it with her audience. Rapper Snoop Dogg also shared the video.
His band announced Tuesday that they will host a legacy concert in Jones' honor on Nov. 27 at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, starting at 6 p.m. CST. His funeral service will take place on Nov. 28 at the same venue starting at 11 a.m. CST.