The Willis Family

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The Willis Family
The Willis Clan.jpg
Genre Reality television
Starring
  • The Willis Family
Opening theme 100 Times Better With You
Composer(s) The Willis Clan
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 13 (as of April 19, 2016)
Production
Production location(s) Nashville, TN
Camera setup Multiple
Release
Original network TLC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release May 15, 2015 (2015-05-15) – April 16, 2016 (2016-04-16)
External links
The Willis Family

The Willis Family is an American reality television show about a musical family that aired on TLC in 2015 and 2016.[1] The show follows a family of 14 from Nashville, Tennessee, demonstrating their musical and dancing skills while "sharing ... talents and balancing a life at home".[2] The family of entertainers, known onstage as The Willis Clan, reached the quarter finals of season 9 of America's Got Talent. Parents Toby and Brenda Willis have 12 children – eight girls and four boys – all of whose names begin with the letter "J", and their sons all have the middle name Scott.

The show was cancelled on September 11, 2016, following the arrest of Toby Willis on four counts of child rape.[3][4][5][6]

Family[edit]

Parents

  • Toby Willis – born (1970-04-29) April 29, 1970 (age 48)
  • Brenda Willis – born (1967-12-31) December 31, 1967 (age 50)

Children

# Name Date of Birth Notes
1 Jessica Jane "Jess" April 13, 1992 (age 26) Married to Sean Fisher
2 Jeremiah Scott "Jair" (1993-04-09) April 9, 1993 (age 25)
3 Jennifer Elizabeth "Jenny" (1995-01-04) January 4, 1995 (age 23) Married to Sean McDowell
4 Jeanette Lynn "Jet" (1996-04-15) April 15, 1996 (age 22) Married to Cory Piatt
5 Jackson Scott "Jack" (1998-05-26) May 26, 1998 (age 20)
6 Jedidiah Scott "Jedi" (1999-08-22) August 22, 1999 (age 18) Dating Laney McDowell (sister of Sean McDowell)
7 Jasmine Katerina "Jazz Kat" (2001-09-07) September 7, 2001 (age 16)
8 Juliette Rose "Julie" (2003-05-23) May 23, 2003 (age 15)
9 Jamie Christine "Jam" (2005-05-24) May 24, 2005 (age 13)
10 Joy-Anna "Joy" (2006-12-02) December 2, 2006 (age 11)
11 Jaeger Scott (2009-10-04) October 4, 2009 (age 8)
12 Jada Marie (2010-10-27) October 27, 2010 (age 7)

Children in Law

# Name Spouse Wedding Date
1 Sean Fisher Jessica Willis 2017
2 Cory Piatt Jeanette Willis January 6, 2018
3 Sean McDowell Jennifer Willis May 26, 2018


The family has a strong Christian and musical heritage with roots from south Chicago. They moved to Nashville in 2001 and have made regular appearances at the Grand Ole Opry.[4]

Legal issues[edit]

Toby Willis was arrested in Kentucky on September 9, 2016 after fleeing there to avoid arrest on a child rape that occurred in Nashville back in 2004.[7] The initial charge was one count of child rape less than 13 years old. The Grand Jury indictment included 4 counts of child rape dating from 2002 - 2013.[8] Court documents later revealed that all 4 victims were of his own daughters (numbers 1,3,7,8 in the family), who at the time were aged 8-12. Toby’s wife Brenda issued a statement after her husband’s arrest, letting fans know that the family band will not be giving any performances. Toby was extradited back to Tennessee on September 13, 2016.

On July 11, 2017, Willis pleaded guilty to four counts of child rape. Cheatham County Circuit Court Clerk Julie Hibbs confirmed that Willis received two 25-year sentences on two counts and two 40-year sentences on the other two. Those sentences will be concurrent, and served at 100 percent, giving Willis a total of 40 years in prison.[9]

In April 2018 Jessica Willis Fisher, the eldest child of the family, detailed her abuse, escape from the family, and her role in bringing her father to justice on her website https://www.jessicawillisfisher.com/.[10][11]

Speak My Mind and Comeback[edit]

In early 2018, the six eldest children besides Jessica surfaced to speak out about the abuse.[12] On July 25, 2018, the group announced that they would "see our younger siblings on their respective roads to recovery out of the spotlight," while the other siblings besides Jessica would be touring, beginning September 7.[13] They announced the same day that they would be releasing the single Speak My Mind on August 10 as a promotion for their upcoming release of the same name, to be released on September 28, 2018.[13]

Episodes[edit]

Season 1
# Title Original Air Date
1"Momma"May 5, 2015 (2015-05-05)
A couple raise 12 children who are involved in music, dance, and wrestling in Nashville, Tennessee. Brenda's birthday is coming up, but she's so busy with the kids' lives that it's in danger of being forgotten until Jessica writes a song called "Mama," which their band perform later at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Also, the family helps raise money for a community charity with a concert at a local library.
2"Dance Your Pants Off"May 12, 2015 (2015-05-12)
A Grand Ole Opry opportunity to perform with country star Josh Turner catches the family by surprise, so they scramble to create a dance routine and choose a song while dealing with wardrobe malfunctions before the gig.
3"Willis on One Knee"May 19, 2015 (2015-05-19)
Jair gets ready to propose to his girlfriend, Mary, and his sisters are eager to help. Meanwhile, the younger kids recreate a winning dance routine their older siblings did years ago.
4"Kilt the Nudies!"May 26, 2015 (2015-05-26)
New musical performances help the family get in touch with their Irish roots.
5"While Mom's Away..."June 2, 2015 (2015-06-02)
Brenda and Toby's romantic dinner is interrupted by Jaeger. Later, Jessica and Jair go to New York with their mother to shoot a music video and meet with a record executive, while Toby stays at home with the other 10 kids.
6"Willis's Go West"June 9, 2015 (2015-06-09)
A month-long tour includes rock climbing in Minnesota, wrestling in Colorado, and surfing on the West Coast, but the kids must also find time for schoolwork and interviews in between gigs.
7"A Willis Debut"June 16, 2015 (2015-06-16)
The cross-country tour ends, but now the family prepares for their album-release party.
Season 2
# Title Original Air Date
1"Coming Home"March 15, 2016 (2016-03-15)
In the Season 2 premiere, the family returns from touring to find some uninvited guests in their house. Later, the Willises go canoeing for Jedi's 16th birthday.
2"Puppy Love"March 22, 2016 (2016-03-22)
Jet goes to an awards show in North Carolina with mandolinist Cory Piatt, but they're chaperoned by Jenny and Jair. Back at home, the family starts working on a new album and recalls a tragic story, while the Willis' dog has a litter of nine puppies.
3"A Frightening Find"March 29, 2016 (2016-03-29)
Jessica loses her voice, which causes concerns that Jasmine may have to fill in as the lead singer. Jazz tries to calm her nerves by singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."
4"Big Problems"April 5, 2016 (2016-04-05)
The family cheers for Jack and Jedi when they compete in a local wrestling tournament. Meanwhile, the source of an illness that's going around is discovered.
5"The Invisible Enemy"April 12, 2016 (2016-04-12)
The Willises must relocate after making a startling discovery in their house, but they aren't sure where to go or what will happen to the album they're recording. Meanwhile, a show for music executives is planned; and another family band comes to town.
6"Making Moves"April 19, 2016 (2016-04-19)
The family band's tour ends in Minnesota. Once they're home, the kids hurry to plan a surprise for their parents on their anniversary.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Willis Family". TLC. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Maharana, Kabita (June 2, 2015). "The Willis Family: Can TLC's new show weave magic after Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's 19 Kids And Counting?". International Business Times. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Kennedy, Dana (14 September 2016). "The Willis Clan No More: A Christian Family Band Comes Apart Amid Child Rape Allegations" – via www.thedailybeast.com. 
  4. ^ a b "Tragedy to Triumph: The Willis Family, 20 years after the van crash claims 6 of 9 children". WGN Chicago. November 6, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2015. 
  5. ^ Collins, Laura. "EXCLUSIVE: 'It was like a black presence in our lives.' Children of 'American von Trapp family' tell of the horror they suffered under their rapist father – but say they are making music again". DailyMail.com. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  6. ^ Lawless, John. "The Willis Clan surfaces to discuss family tragedy". BluegrassToday.com. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  7. ^ "TLC star Toby Willis arrested on child rape charge". Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Grand Jury, Circuit Court, Cheatham County, Tennessee : Toby Nathaniel Willis" (PDF). Radar Online. 13 July 2017. 
  9. ^ "Willis Clan's Toby Willis pleads guilty to child rape". 
  10. ^ "Willis sister Jessica speaks out about abuse and why she left family". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-04-16. 
  11. ^ "My Story". JessicaWillisFisher.com. 2018-04-14. Archived from the original on 2018-04-14. Retrieved 2018-04-16. 
  12. ^ "Video: Willis family kids open up about father's abuse". Daily Mail. 
  13. ^ a b "The Willis Clan". Instagram. July 25, 2018.