July 24, 2016 - 8:30 pm
Iconic Jamaican singer, actress, songwriter and top model Grace Jones is one of the most exciting artists in modern music.
Ever since she rose to fame in the 80s, her stylish contribution to music is unparalleled. Her shows are a true reflection of her character: charismatic, creative, and extravagant. “La Vie en Rose”, “Libertango”, “Pull Up To the Bumper” or “Slave to the Rhythm”: there is only one Grace Jones!
Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Grace Jones was raised by her grandparents in a very religious environment while her parents established themselves in Syracuse, New York. When Jones was 13, she and her siblings joined her parents in Syracuse, where after completing her primary schooling, Jones studied Spanish and theater at Onondaga Community College and Syracuse University; however, the rebellious streak that she had gradually developed soon led her drop out and move to Philadelphia to take a part in a play. She then took the leap and moved to New York City where she signed with Wilhelmina Modeling Agency but found limited success. So in 1970 she traveled to Paris to pursue her career and soon found herself working as a model for some of the top names in the fashion world, including Yves Saint Laurent and Helmut Newton. She also made the covers of ELLE and Vogue magazines and befriended the likes of Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange, Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld.
Jones’s success as a model soon opened new doors for her, and after landing a small role in a little-known film titled Gordon’s War (1973), Jones eventually signed a recording contract with Island Records in 1977. Her debut album, Portfolio, was released the same year and included the singles ‘Sorry’ and ‘I Need a Man’ as well as her acclaimed re-invention of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose”. The following year, she released the album Fame, and released the singles ‘Fame’, ‘Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City’ and ‘Do Or Die’. Grace Jones’ third album was entitled Muse and was released in 1979. It was the third album on which Jones worked with disco producer Tom Moulter and it spawned the singles ‘I’ll Find My Way To You’ and ‘On Your Knees’. During this period Jones found considerable success in the market and became an iconic figure poised to break into a wider audience. She also became a muse to Andy Warhol who photographed her extensively and created a series of iconic portraits of her.
Grace Jones began to move away from her original disco-pop sound and began to take influence from the New Wave music that was emerging from the New York underground scene. In 1980, Jones released the Warm Leatherette album, working with Alex Sadkin and Chris Blackwell on production duties. This was followed by Nightclubbing, on which she continued her trend of re-working songs by artists such as Sting (“Demolition Man”), Iggy Pop and David Bowie (“Nightclubbing”), Roxy Music (“Love is the Drug”), Tom Petty and The Pretenders (“Breakdown”). Both albums yielded chart-making singles, including the popping “Pull up to the Bumper.”
Following the release of the album Living My Life (1982) which featured the self-penned hit “My Jamaican Guy”, Jones switched gears and took her distinctive look to the screen, appearing with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer (1984) and opposite Roger Moore and Christopher Walken in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill. Jones earned a Saturn Award nomination for best supporting actress for both films. Jones eventually returned to her recording career, enlisting super-producer Trevor Horn to oversee 1985’s Slave to the Rhythm, which turned out to be a somewhat autobiographical work (the same year, a ten-track compilation was issued as well, Island Life). Jones’ penchant for working with big-name producers continued on 1986’s Inside Story; with production chores handled by Chic’s Nile Rodgers, the album spawned one of Jones’ most successful singles, “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You).” Following the release of 1989’s Bulletproof Heart which spawned the number 1 U.S Dance Club hit “Love on Top of Love (Killer Kiss)” Jones seemed to turn her back on her recording career (although 1993 saw the release of a new single, “Sex Drive”), as she again focused primarily on movies, including a role in Eddie Murphy’s hit 1992 comedy Boomerang.
The double-disc set Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions (a collection of 26 tracks) was released in 1998, which was followed up four years later with Island Life, Vol. 2. She returned to music in 2008 with Hurricane, an album featuring contributions from Brian Eno, Wendy & Lisa, Tony Allen, and others. In 2011 the album was re-released with a bonus disc featuring dubs created by producer Ivor Guest. Several compilation albums of her work have been released, including the three-disc retrospective The Ultimate Collection (2006) and the box set Disco (2015), and in 2008 she released Hurricane, her first full-length album in nearly twenty years. In 2012, Jones delivered a dazzling performance in front of 50,000 people for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace.
Jones has also performed with artists as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti and Kylie Minogue; has been named as a primary influence for numerous contemporary superstars, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Santigold; and has been ranked by VH1 as among the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. In 2015, she published a memoir, ironically titled I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and is the subject of the upcoming BBC documentary Grace Jones – The Musical of My Life, directed by Sophie Fiennes.
- Portfolio (1977)
- Fame (1978)
- Muse (1979)
- Warm Leatherette (1980)
- Nightclubbing (1981)
- Living My Life (1982)
- Slave to the Rhythm (1985)
- Inside Story (1986)
- Bulletproof Heart (1989)
- Hurricane (2008)