Carolyn Jones-Knighten, 37, a versatile singer known for her wide vocal range, died Wednesday in the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.
The cause of death is not known, according to her brother, Alvin Jones, Jr.
A Toledo native, her first audiences were in the pews of Bethlehem Baptist Church. She started as a member of the children's choir, singing a solo, "Amazing Grace," at age 5.
Mrs. Jones-Knighten was a graduate of Macomber-Whitney High School and the Ohio Barber College. She worked briefly as a barber before quitting to pursue her musical career full time.
She began singing professionally locally at age 18, performing a variety of styles including reggae, jazz, country, pop, and gospel.
During her career, Mrs. Jones-Knighten performed in Europe and Japan, as a soloist and member of gospel and R&B groups, and in the studio as a backup singer. She also sang and acted in several national touring theatrical productions.
Many know her as the vocal half of C.J. and Company, a duo that has performed at least two nights a week at Stella's Restaurant and Bar in Perrysburg since it opened in 2005.
"She was just fantastic," said Jim Hodulik, owner of Stella's. "She had a passion for what she did. She just loved singing."
Her voice could melt listeners or propel them out of their seats and onto the dance floor, said C.J. Manning, saxophonist and keyboard player for C.J. and Company, a friend for more than 20 years and her musical partner for the last eight.
In addition to their shows at Stella's, Mr. Manning said, the duo performed at other local venues and private functions such as weddings and parties.
Surviving are her husband, Billy Knighten; daughters, Porshia Knighten, Jordan Knighten, and Helena Jones-Knighten; mother, Helen R. Jones; brother, Alvin Jones, Jr., and sisters, Connie Ford-Lowe, Tammy Jones, and Victoria Bell.
Visitation and wake services will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1430 West Bancroft St. The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the church.
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