Armond Jackson and I met the year after his sister, Sandra Latham was killed. Sandra is the last person killed in Detroit on New Year’s Eve due to random gunfire. The year was 1997. As a member of the Detroit City Council, I proposed a task force to examine the tradition of random gunfire on New Year’s Eve. The City Council supported my request and the following December during a press conference to urge people not to shoot guns in celebration on New Year’s Eve, I met Armond. For five years or so, I would call Armond in December to ask him to coordinate gathering his family to join me at the press conference.
It was my first time hearing him sing. Armond’s voice was on another level. His style of directing the choir was intense. Even though Armond was the minister of music at Original New Grace, he told me he was a member of Greater Christ Baptist Church, where Rev. James Perkins is the pastor.
Eventually, Armond started worshiping at the Plymouth United Church of Christ, where I am pastor and senior minister. I asked Armond to help me as musical director for a new worship service, the Wednesday Noon Worship Service. Armond would reach out to several of his friends and colleagues in music and would invite them to sing and play during this worship service.
Armond joined the church and was involved on several levels. After retirement from EDS/ General Motors, Armond volunteered on the reception desk at the church, helping the office staff in a variety of ways. The church elected Armond to the Deacon Board. As a deacon, Armond visited the sick and shut in and delivered communion. He was always immaculately dressed and represented the church well. Armond made a lot of friends at the church. When Armond became ill, several members of the church would take turns driving him to the doctor and medical treatments.
Armond dramatically transformed worship at the Plymouth United Church of Christ. I asked him to lead praise and worship. Almost single handedly, Armond would kick the worship service into high-gear. One of the musical strengths of Armond was his ability to match his God-given golden voice with the humility to lead worshipers in learning and singing songs as a congregation. Yes, Armond was an exceptional soloist, but he was also an exceptional worship leader.
He and I spoke often about how so many gifted vocalists would rather sing a solo and “knock the congregation in the aisles” but be unwilling to lead others in singing the songs of Zion in corporate worship.
On Sunday mornings Armond would begin the worship service leading praise and worship. He would often go to the lower level and assist the Sunday School with their devotional service. A few years ago, Armond put on a “Easter Bunny” outfit and delighted the children.
Armond was a good friend. We spoke often about much more than music. He could sing on several different levels, from Gospel to Jazz, Blues and Classical, Armond could sing it all. He was also a great actor. I saw him in a few theatrical performances. Armond was professional in his preparation and performance. He took musical and theatrical performance seriously. Armond had very little patience for musicians who were slack in their preparation, performance and if they were late for rehearsals performance.
In my opinion, Armond had a world-class voice. More than his voice, Armond was a world-class human being. His spirit was smooth. His faith was strong. His attitude towards others was loving and kind. Armond loved his family and enjoyed encouraging them to come together. I will miss Armond, but thank God for his salvation and the eternal life the Jesus Christ has afforded to him and all who give their lives to Him in faith.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
These are the arrangements for Armond:
Family Hour: Monday, October 10, 2016 – 11 AM
Funeral: Monday, October 10, 2016 – 12 noon
Plymouth United Church of Christ
600 E. Warren Ave.
Detroit, Michigan 48201
Atkins Funeral Home