The Iconic Jamaican Legend ‘Grace Jones' And Her Impact On Music, Fashion And Culture

The Iconic Jamaican Legend ‘Grace Jones' And Her Impact On Music, Fashion And Culture

Grace Beverly Jones OJ, born on May 19, 1948, is a Jamaican singer, songwriter, model, and actress. Her journey in the entertainment industry began when she moved to Syracuse, New York, with her family as a teenager. Jones started her career as a model in New York and Paris, working with renowned fashion houses like Yves St. Laurent and Kenzo. Her unique and androgynous appearance, along with her bold features, made her stand out in the industry.

During the late 1970s, Jones ventured into music, signing a record deal with Island Records. She quickly became a prominent figure in New York City's disco scene, notably associated with Studio 54. In the early 1980s, she transitioned to a new wave style that blended reggae, funk, post-punk, and pop music. Collaborating with graphic designer Jean-Paul Goude and the musical duo Sly & Robbie, Jones achieved success with hits like "Private Life," "Pull Up to the Bumper," "I've Seen That Face Before," and "Slave to the Rhythm." Her albums, such as "Warm Leatherette" (1980), "Nightclubbing" (1981), and "Slave to the Rhythm" (1985), are considered some of her most popular works.

Jones also made a name for herself in the film industry, appearing in indie films before landing mainstream roles. She portrayed Zula in the fantasy-action film "Conan the Destroyer" (1984) alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Douglas. She gained further recognition as May Day in the James Bond movie "A View to a Kill" (1985) and starred as a vampire in "Vamp" (1986), earning her nominations for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. Jones continued to act in films such as "Boomerang" (1992) and "Wolf Girl" (2001).

Throughout her career, Jones has been an influential figure in music and fashion. She has inspired numerous artists, including Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Lorde. In 1999, VH1 ranked her 82nd on their list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. Billboard recognized her as the 40th greatest dance club artist of all time in 2016.

Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Jones was raised in a strict Pentecostal family. Her upbringing was characterized by discipline and religious practices. At the age of 13, she moved to the United States to live with her parents in New York. Jones rebelled against her upbringing, embracing a countercultural lifestyle in the 1960s. She worked as a model and immersed herself in the music and fashion scenes.

Having already recorded two reggae-oriented albums under the production of Compass Point All Stars, Jones went to Nassau, Bahamas in 1982 and recorded Living My Life; the album resulted in Jones's final contribution to the Compass Point trilogy, with only one cover, Melvin Van Peebles's "The Apple Stretching". The rest were original songs; "Nipple to the Bottle" was co-written with Sly Dunbar, and, apart from "My Jamaican Guy", the other tracks were collaborations with Barry Reynolds. Despite receiving a limited single release, the title track was left off the album. Further session outtakes included "Man Around the House" (Jones, Reynolds) and a cover of "Ring of Fire", written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore and popularized by Johnny Cash, both of which were included on the 1998 compilation Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions. The album's cover art resulted from another Jones/Goude collaboration; the artwork has been described as being as famous as the music on the record. It features Jones's disembodied head cut out from a photograph and pasted onto a white background. Jones's head is sharpened, giving her head and face an angular shape.A piece of plaster is pasted over her left eyebrow, and her forehead is covered with drops of sweat.

Jones's three albums under the production of the Compass Point All Stars resulted in Jones's One Man Show, a performance art/pop theatre presentation devised by Goude and Jones in which she also performed tracks from the albums Portfolio ("La Vie en rose"), Warm Leatherette, ("Private Life", "Warm Leatherette"), Nightclubbing ("Walking in the Rain", "Feel Up", "Demolition Man", "Pull Up to the Bumper" and "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)") and from Living My Life, "My Jamaican Guy" and the album's title track. Jones dressed in elaborate costumes and masks (in the opening sequence as a gorilla) and alongside a series of Grace Jones lookalikes. A video version, filmed live in London and New York City and completed with some studio footage, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Long-Form Music Video the following year.
After the release of Living My Life, Jones took on the role of Zula the Amazonian in Conan the Destroyer (1984) and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1985, Jones starred as May Day, henchwoman to main antagonist Max Zorin in the 14th James Bond film A View to a Kill; Jones was also nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. That same year, she was featured on the Arcadia song "Election Day". Jones was among the many stars to promote the Honda Scooter; other artists included Lou Reed, Adam Ant, and Miles Davis. Jones also, with her boyfriend Dolph Lundgren posed nude for Playboy. 
1986–1989: Slave to the Rhythm, Island Life, and further films. 

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After Jones's success as a mainstream actress, she returned to the studio to work on Slave to the Rhythm, the last of her recordings for Island. Bruce Woolley, Simon Darlow, Stephen Lipson and Trevor Horn wrote the material, and it was produced by Horn and Lipson. It was a concept album that featured several interpretations of the title track. The project was originally intended for Frankie Goes to Hollywood as a follow-up to "Relax", but was given to Jones. All eight tracks on the album featured excerpts from a conversation with Jones, speaking about many aspects of her life. The interview was conducted by journalist Paul Morley. The album features voice-overs from actor Ian McShane reciting passages from Jean-Paul Goude's biography Jungle Fever. Slave to the Rhythm was successful in German-speaking countries and in the Netherlands, where it secured Top 10 placings. It reached number 12 on the UK Albums Chart in November 1985 and became the second-highest-ranking album released by Jones. Jones earned an MTV Video Music Award nomination for the title track's music video.

After her success with Slave to the Rhythm, Island released Island Life, Jones's first best-of compilation, which featured songs from most of her releases with Island (Portfolio, Fame, Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing, Living My Life and Slave to the Rhythm). American writer and journalist Glenn O'Brien wrote the essay for the inlay booklet. The compilation charted in the UK, New Zealand and the United States. The artwork on the cover of the compilation was of another Jones/Goude collaboration; it featured Jones's celestial body in a montage of separate images, following Goude's ideas on creating credible illusions with his cut-and-paint technique. The body position is anatomically impossible.
The artwork, a piece called "Nigger Arabesque" was originally published in the New York magazine in 1978, and was used as a backdrop for the music video of Jones's hit single "La Vie en rose". The artwork has been described as "one of pop culture's most famous photographs". The image was also parodied in Nicki Minaj's 2011 music video for "Stupid Hoe", in which Minaj mimicked the pose. 
After Slave to the Rhythm and Island Life, Jones started to record again under a new contract with Manhattan Records, which resulted in Inside Story, Jones teamed up with music producer Nile Rodgers of Chic, whom Jones had previously tried to work with during the disco era.

 The album was recorded at Skyline Studios in New York and post-produced at Atlantic Studios and Sterling Sound. Inside Story was the first album Jones produced, which resulted in heated disputes with Rodgers. Musically, the album was more accessible than her previous albums with the Compass Point All Stars, and explored different styles of pop music, with undertones of jazz, gospel, and Caribbean sounds. All songs on the album were written by Jones and Bruce Woolley. Richard Bernstein teamed up with Jones again to provide the album's artwork. Inside Story made the top 40 in several European countries. The album was Jones's last entry to date on US Billboard 200 albums chart. The same year, Jones starred as Katrina, an Egyptian queen vampire in the vampire film Vamp. For her work in the film, Jones was awarded a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1987, Jones appeared in two films, Straight to Hell, and Mary Lambert's Siesta, for which Jones was nominated for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Bulletproof Heart was released in 1989, produced by Chris Stanley, who co-wrote, and co-produced the majority of the songs, and was featured as a guest vocalist on "Don't Cry Freedom". Robert Clivillés and David Cole of C+C Music Factory produced some tracks on the album.

1990–2004: Boomerang, soundtracks, and collaborations
In 1990, Jones appeared as herself in the documentary, Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol. 1992 saw Jones starring as Helen Strangé, in the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang, for which she also contributed the song "7 Day Weekend" to its soundtrack. Jones released two more soundtrack songs in 1992; "Evilmainya", recorded for the film Freddie as F.R.O.7, and "Let Joy and Innocence Prevail" for the film Toys. In 1994, she was due to release an electro album titled Black Marilyn with artwork featuring the singer as Marilyn Monroe. "Sex Drive" was released as the first single in September 1993, but the album was shelved due to Jones disliking the mixes that were presented by producers, whom she felt were primarily interested in sampling and had "minced" her vocals. Jones stated that the experience turned her off working on music. The track "Volunteer", recorded during the same sessions, leaked in 2009. In 1995, Jones reunited with Tom Moulton for a disco-house take on Candi Staton's 1978 song "Victim", however, the song's release was cancelled by Island Records.  In 1996, Jones released "Love Bites", an up-tempo electronic track to promote the Sci-Fi Channel's Vampire Week, which consisted of a series of vampire-themed films aired on the channel in early November 1996. The track features Jones singing from the perspective of a vampire. The track was released as a non-label promo-only single. As of 2013, it had not been made commercially available.

In June 1998, Jones was scheduled to release an album titled Force of Nature, on which she worked with trip hop musician Tricky.The release of Force of Nature was cancelled due to a disagreement between the two, and only a white label 12" single featuring two dance mixes of "Hurricane" was issued at the time; a slowed-down version of this song became the title track of her comeback album released ten years later while another unreleased track from the album, "Clandestine Affair" (recycling the chorus from her unreleased 1993 track "Volunteer"), appeared on a bootleg 12" in 2004. Jones recorded the track "Storm" in 1998 for the movie The Avengers, and in 1999, appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Umpatra Warrior.
The same year, Jones recorded "The Perfect Crime", an up-tempo song for Danish TV written by the composer duo Floppy M. aka Jacob Duus and Kåre Jacobsen. Jones was also ranked 82nd place on VH1's "100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll".[citation needed] In 2000, Jones collaborated with rapper Lil' Kim, appearing on the song "Revolution" from her album The Notorious K.I.M.. In 2001, Jones starred in the film, Wolf Girl (also known as Blood Moon), as an intersex circus performer named Christoph/Christine. In 2002, Jones joined Luciano Pavarotti on stage for his annual Pavarotti and Friends fundraiser concert to support the United Nations refugee agency's programs for Angolan refugees in Zambia. In November 2004, Jones sang "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for record producer Trevor Horn at London's Wembley Arena.

2008–2015: Hurricane and memoir
Despite several comeback attempts throughout the 1990s, Jones's next full-length record was released almost twenty years later, after Jones decided "never to do an album again,"changing her mind after meeting music producer Ivor Guest through a mutual friend, milliner Philip Treacy. After the two became acquainted, Guest let Jones listen to a track he had been working on, which became "Devil in My Life", once Jones set the lyrics to the song. The lyrics to the song were written after a party in Venice.

The two ended up with 23 tracks. The album, Hurricane, included autobiographical songs, such as "This Is", "Williams' Blood" and "I'm Crying (Mother's Tears)", an ode to her mother Marjorie. "Love You to Life" was another track based on real events and "Corporate Cannibal" referred to corporate capitalism. "Well Well Well" was recorded in memory of Alex Sadkin, member of Compass Point All Stars who had died in a motor accident 1987. "Sunset Sunrise" was written by Jones's son, Paulo; the song ponders the relationship between mankind and mother nature. Four songs were removed from the album, "The Key to Funky", "Body Phenomenon", "Sister Sister" and "Misery". For the production of the album, Jones teamed up with Sly and Robbie, Wally Badarou, Barry Reynolds, Mikey Chung, and Uziah "Sticky" Thompson, of the Compass Point All Stars, with contributions from trip-hop artist Tricky, and Brian Eno.
The album was released on Wall of Sound on 3 November 2008, in the United Kingdom.

PIAS, the umbrella company of Wall of Sound, distributed Hurricane worldwide excluding North America. The album scored 72 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic.Prior to the album's release, Jones performed at Massive Attack's Meltdown festival in London on 19 June 2008, Jones performed four new songs from the album and premiered the music video which Jones and artist Nick Hooker collaborated on, which resulted in "Corporate Cannibal".Jones promoted the album even further by appearing on talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, performed at several awards galas, and embarked on The Hurricane Tour. The same year, Jones was honoured with Q Idol Award. In 2009, Chris Cunningham produced a fashion shoot for Dazed & Confused using Jones as a model to create "Nubian versions" of Rubber Johnny. In an interview for BBC's The Culture Show, it was suggested that the collaboration may expand into a video project. Jones also worked with the avant-garde poet Brigitte Fontaine on a duet named "Soufi" from Fontaine's album Prohibition released in 2009, and produced by Ivor Guest.

In March 2010 Jones performed for guests at the 18th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Viewing Party. The Elton John AIDS Foundation is one of the world's leading nonprofit organisations supporting HIV prevention programs, and works to eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS. The event raised US$3.7 million. The same year, a budget DVD version of A One Man Show was released, as Grace Jones – Live in Concert. It included three bonus video clips ("Slave to the Rhythm", "Love Is the Drug" and "Crush".
In 2011, Jones collaborated again with Brigitte Fontaine on two tracks from her release entitled L'un n'empêche pas l'autre and performed at the opening ceremony of the 61st FIFA Congress. Jones released a dub version of the album, Hurricane – Dub, which came out on 5 September 2011. The dub versions were made by Ivor Guest, with contributions from Adam Green, Frank Byng, Robert Logan and Ben Cowan.

In April 2012, Jones joined Deborah Harry, Bebel Gilberto, and Sharon Stone at the Inspiration Gala in São Paulo, Brazil, raising $1.3 million for amfAR (the Foundation for AIDS Research). Jones closed the evening with a performance of "La Vie en Rose" and "Pull Up to the Bumper".Two months later, Jones performed "Slave to the Rhythm" at the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II (whilst keeping a hula hoop spinning round her waist throughout), and the Lovebox Festival.On 27 October 2012, Jones performed her only North American show of 2012, a performance at New York City's Roseland Ballroom.The same year, Jones presented Sir Tom Jones with not only the GQ Men of the Year award, but her underwear. Tom Jones accepted the gift in good humour, and replied by saying, "I didn't think you wore any".

Universal Music Group released a deluxe edition of her Nightclubbing album as a two-disc set and Blu-ray audio on 28 April 2014. The set contains most of the 12" mixes of singles from that album, plus two previously unreleased tracks from the Nightclubbing sessions, including a cover of the Gary Numan track "Me! I Disconnect from You".
In October 2014, Jones was announced as having contributed a song, "Original Beast", to the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.
Jones's memoir entitled I'll Never Write My Memoirs was released on 29 September 2015. In 2017, Jones collaborated with British virtual band Gorillaz, appearing on the song "Charger" from their fifth studio album Humanz.
In October 2018, Jones received the Order of Jamaica from the Jamaican government.
In June 2022, Jones served as curator of the 27th edition of the Meltdown Festival, the UK's longest-running artist-curated music festival. Jones had been announced as the curator already for the 2020 festival, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was rescheduled to 2022. During her show that closed the festival, Jones announced that a brand new 'African hybrid' record was in production, and previewed "The Sun Shines in Wartime" (or "Sunshine In Wartime) and "Blacker Than Black" (or "Born Black") from the album.
Jones provided guest vocals on Beyoncé's song "Move" from her seventh studio album Renaissance, released in July 2022.

On 14 November 2022, music festival Camp Bestival announced their 2023 lineup, which included Jones, alongside Primal Scream, Melanie C, Craig David, The Kooks, the Human League, and others.
On 23 July 2023, Jones headlined the music acts at Bluedot Festival. Jones's father, Bishop Robert W. Jones, was strict and their relationship was strained. According to his particular denomination's beliefs, one should only use one's singing ability to glorify God. He died on 7 May 2008. Her mother, Marjorie, always supported Jones's career (she sings on "Williams' Blood" and "My Jamaican Guy") but could not be publicly associated with her music. Marjorie's father, John Williams, was also a musician and played with Nat King Cole.
Jones described her childhood as having been "crushed underneath the Bible",and since has refused to enter a Jamaican church due to her bad childhood experiences.
Jones used the surname "Mendoza" in her 20s, so that her parents would not know that she was working as a go-go dancer. 

Through her relationship with longtime collaborator Jean-Paul Goude, Jones has one son, Paulo, born 12 November 1979. From Paulo, Jones has one granddaughter. Jones married Atila Altaunbay in 1996. She disputes rumors that she married Chris Stanley in her 2015 memoir I'll Never Write My Memoirs, saying, "The truth is, I only ever married one of my boyfriends, Atila Altaunbay, a Muslim from Turkey." She spent four years with Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, her former bodyguard. she got him a part as a KGB officer in A View to a Kill (1985). Jones started dating Danish actor and stuntman Sven-Ole Thorsen in 1990, and was in an open relationship as of 2007.
Jones's brother is megachurch preacher Bishop Noel Jones, who starred on the 2013 reality show Preachers of LA

Jones's contributions to disco and new wave music, as well as her impact on fashion and pop culture, have solidified her status as a legendary artist. Her iconic performances and distinctive style continue to captivate audiences worldwide.

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