Jones was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, the daughter of Marjorie and Robert W. Jones, who was a politician and Apostolic clergyman. Her parents took Grace and her brother Randy to relocate to Syracuse, New York in 1965. Before becoming a successful model in New York City and Paris, Jones studied theater at Onondaga Community College.
Jones secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance-club hits and a large gay following. The three disco albums she recorded—Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978), and Muse (1979)—generated considerable success in that market. These albums consisted of pop melodies set to a disco beat (such as "All on a Summer's Night" and "Do or Die,") and standards (such as "What I Did for Love," "Autumn Leaves," and "Send in the Clowns").
Toward the end of the 1970s, Jones adapted the emerging New Wave music to create a different style for herself. Still with Island, and now working with producers Chris Blackwell, Alex Sadkin and the Compass Point All Stars, she released the acclaimed albums Warm Leatherette (1980) and Nightclubbing (1981). These included re-imaginings of songs by Sting, Iggy Pop, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Flash and the Pan, The Normal, Ástor Piazzolla, and Tom Petty.
Parallel to her musical shift was an equally dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude, with whom she had a son. Jones adopted a severe, androgynous look, with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. The iconic cover photographs of Nightclubbing and, subsequently, Slave to the Rhythm (1985) exemplified this new identity. To this day, Jones is known for her unique look at least as much as she is for her music. Her collaboration with Blackwell, Sadkin and the Compass Point All Stars continued with the dub reggae–influenced album Living My Life.
In the mid-1980s, she worked with Trevor Horn for the conceptual musical collage Slave to the Rhythm and with producer Nile Rodgers for Inside Story (1986)—her first album after leaving the Island Records label. The well-received Slave to the Rhythm consisted of several re-workings of the title track (the single of which hit #12 in the UK), while Inside Story produced her last Billboard Hot 100 hit to date, "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)," one of several songs she co-wrote with Bruce Woolley. Bulletproof Heart (1989) spawned the #1 U.S. Hot Dance Club Play hit "Love on Top of Love" / "Killer Kiss", produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivilles.
Although she has yet to become a truly mainstream recording artist in the United States (with the exception of her featured work on the Arcadia hit single "Election Day"), much of her musical output is still popular on the Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts, and many of her songs are regarded as classics to this day. Jones was able to find mainstream success in the United Kingdom, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. To date, she has officially released 49 commercial and/or promotional singles (not including re-releases), including several non-album tracks.
Grace Jones is a contralto vocalist. Although her image became more notable than her voice, she is in fact a highly stylized vocalist. She sings in two modes—in her monotone speak-sing as in songs such as "Private Life," "Walking in the Rain," and "The Apple Stretching"; and in an almost-soprano mode in songs such as "La Vie en Rose" and "Slave to the Rhythm." Her vocal range spans two-and-a-half octaves. She contributed significant vocals to Arcadia's 1985 hit single, "Election Day," from the album So Red the Rose, as well as to their subsequent single "The Flame."
Style and image
Grace Jones's masculine appearance, height (5'10½" or 1.79 m), and manner influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s. She would also exemplify the "Flat Top," a hairstyle popular among-but not exclusive to-men in the late-1980s, which she displayed on the cover of her first non-disco album, 1980's Warm Leatherette.
She maintained parallel recording and acting careers, and modeling work often overshadowed her musical output. Her strong visual presence extended to her concert tours. In her performances, she adopted various personas and wore outlandish costumes, particularly during her years with Goude. One such performance was at the Paradise Garage in 1985, for which she collaborated with visual artist Keith Haring for her costume. Haring painted her body in tribal patterns and fitted her with wire armor. The muralist also painted her body for the video to "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)."
Jones recorded two albums during the 1990s, but they remain unreleased thus far—in 1994, she was due to release an electro album titled Black Marilyn with artwork featuring the singer as Marilyn Monroe; in 1998, she was scheduled to release an album entitled Force of Nature. A white label 12" single featuring two dance mixes of "Hurricane (Cradle to the Grave)" was released; a slowed-down remix of this song became the title track of her album released in 2008. Also in 1998, she sang the title track for the film remake of the cult TV series The Avengers. The song "Storm" was written and produced by Bruce Woolley, Chris Elliott, and Marius DeVries and was performed with The Radio Science Orchestra.
In 2000, Jones cut "The Perfect Crime," an up-tempo song for Danish TV written by the composer duo Floppy M. On May 28, 2002, Jones performed onstage with Italian opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti during Pavarotti's annual "Pavarotti and Friends" concert to support the United Nations refugee agency's programs for Angolan refugees in Zambia. The concert was held in Modena, Italy, and Jones and Pavarotti were accompanied by the 70-strong Orchestra Sinfonica Italiana, conducted by Jose Molina.
In November 2004, Jones sang her hit "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for Trevor Horn at Wembley Arena. She received rave reviews, despite having been absent in the music scene for some time. In February 2006, Jones was the celebrity runway model for Diesel's show in New York.
On October 20, 2006, the 3-CD compilation The Ultimate Collection was released in Europe by the CCM label. On November 3, 2006, Jones took part in a gathering of people sharing the surname, performing "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Pull up to the Bumper" to a large crowd of Joneses. 1,224 people were gathered that day at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, breaking the previous record for the largest surname-based gathering.
Producer Ivor Guest confirmed that Jones had completed recording of her new album in 2007. Jones revealed in an interview regarding her collaboration with Guest, "...we had a creative chemistry and the music flowed. We remain great friends and have created 23 tracks, of which the rest will form the next album." Nick Hooker has directed the first video from the upcoming album. Other participants on the new album include the original Compass Point All Stars lineup, i.e. Sly and Robbie, Barry Reynolds, Mikey Chung, Sticky Thompson and Wally Badarou, joined by Brian Eno, Bruce Woolley, Tricky, and Tony Allen. In April 2007, Version2 listed "Corporate Cannibal" as the new video directed by Nick Hooker for Grace Jones. On June 22, 2007, Jones performed in Copenhagen at Tivoli Gardens theme park. Tivoli's Web site mentioned the title of her new album as Corporate Cannibal, without confirming a release date.
Jones was part of the lineup for Massive Attack's Meltdown at the Southbank Centre in London, taking place from June 14–22, 2008. Jones received positive reviews across many UK newspapers for her comeback show as part of the Meltdown festival on June 19, and she previewed many new songs from her first album of new material in almost 20 years. She also performed at the relaunch of Elandra Resort in Mission Beach in Cairns, Queensland on June 28, 2008, her first performance in Australia in many years.. Jones headlined the Belgian Lokerse Feesten on August 8, 2008, with a full 2-hour show similar to the one at Meltdown.
Her new album was scheduled for release on October 27, 2008, on Wall of Sound/PIAS Records and is called Hurricane, with Jones touring the UK and headlining the Secret Garden Party from July 24–27, 2008, to promote the album's release. She also made a guest appearance and performance in 2008 at the Bestival (Isle of Wight) as well as Electric Picnic (Ireland). She played the Sydney Festival in January 2009, headlining the Festival First Night free concert in Hyde Park with an audience of over 80,000 people.
Jones may release the "lost" album "Black Marilyn" independently in 2009, along with a compilation of tracks recorded between "Bulletproof Heart" and "Hurricane".
New remastered editions of "Portfolio", "Muse", and "Fame" are set to be released in 2009. This will mark the first time "Muse" has been commercially available on CD. Also on the way is a 2 CD Deluxe Edition of "Nightclubbing" from Island Records to coincide with the record labels 50th Anniversary.
Jones recently performed on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross and performed "Love You to Life".
On 9 August 2009 Jones performed a full set at 'Space' - a nightclub on Ibiza island, Spain.
In the 1973 film Gordon's War, Jones played the role of Mary, a Harlem drug courier. Jones's work as an actress in mainstream film began with the role of Zula, the Amazon, in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain. She next landed the role of May Day in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. She also appeared in a short music video "Hey Baby" from the band Hansel to Home in 1986.
Jones appeared in a number of other motion pictures including the 1986 vampire film Vamp (in which she used her Keith Haring body paint as part of her role as a vampiric exotic dancer) and the 1992 Eddie Murphy film Boomerang (in which she played eccentric supermodel Helen Strangé), for which she recorded the song "7 Day Weekend." In 2001, she appeared alongside Tim Curry in Wolf Girl (also known as Blood Moon), as a transvestite circus freakshow performer named Christoph/Christine. She also appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Impatra Warrior.
Awards and nominations
- 1985 – Best Supporting Actress for Conan the Destroyer: Nomination
- 1986 – Best Supporting Actress for A View to a Kill: Nomination
- 1987 – Best Supporting Actress for Vamp: Nomination
- 1984 – Best Long Form Music Video for her A One Man Show: Nomination
MTV Video Music Award
- 1986 – Best Female Video for "Slave to the Rhythm": Nomination
- 1987 – Worst Supporting Actress for Siesta: Nomination
Q Music Award
- 2008 – Idol award: Winner
In 1981, Jones slapped chat show host Russell Harty across the face live on air after he turned to interview other guests and she felt she was being ignored. This topped a 2006 BBC poll of the most-shocking British TV chat show moments.
In April 2005, Jones was accused of verbally abusing a Eurostar train manager in a quarrel over a ticket upgrade, and she either was escorted off the train or left of her own accord, later saying that she was mistreated.
In November 2006, Jones was criticized for her behavior at a Delta Airlines party. Witnesses claimed that, at one stage, she removed items of clothing, claiming to be "Queen Bitch Jungle Mother of New York." Her publicist later denied the claims as "ridiculous."
- Gordon's War (1973)
- Let's Make a Dirty Movie (1976)
- Colt 38 Special Squad (1976)
- Army of Lovers or Revolution of the Perverts (1979) (documentary)
- Deadly Vengeance (1981)
- Made in France (1984) (documentary)
- Conan the Destroyer (1984)
- A View to a Kill (1985)
- Vamp (1986)
- Straight to Hell (1987)
- Siesta (1987)
- Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (1990) (documentary)
- Boomerang (1992)
- Cyber Bandits (1995)
- McCinsey's Island (1998)
- Palmer's Pick Up (1999)
- No Place Like Home (2006)
- Falco – Damn, We Still Live! (2008)
- Chelsea On The Rocks (2008)
Appearances in popular culture
- Chicago electronic duo Microfilm mentions Grace Jones in lyrics to their 2007 song "Paris." The lyrics "Tour Eiffel/You wear it well/Like Grace Jones/I think I fell...for you" refer to Jones's role in the Bond film A View to a Kill, where her character parachutes off the Eiffel Tower.
- On the reality TV series America's Next Top Model, cycle 2, the models dressed as famous celebrities for a photo shoot. Jones was one of them, modeled by Xiomara Frans.
- On the reality TV series Australia's Next Top Model, cycle 5, the models dressed as famous celebrities for a photo shoot. Jones was one of them, modeled by Franky Okpara.
- Spitting Image parodied Grace Jones in music video, portraying her as unsubtly post-modernist and pretentious (In is a kind of out. Sure is a kind of doubt. Goldfish is a kind of trout. Garbage is what this song's about...)
- On the sketch comedy TV show In Living Color, Kim Wayans regularly parodied Grace Jones as an extremely physical enthusiast of any activity, whether it be fighting an alligator for her dinner or pro wrestling, while regularly asking "Do you find me sexy?".
- In the early 1980s, Jones appeared in an advertising campaign for Honda's new line of motor scooters, which had become fashionable at the time. Jones persuaded rock star Adam Ant (who, prior to the ad campaign, had never driven in his life) to try it. The commercial ends with Jones biting Ant on the ear, which was edited out for airings in the U.S., but was left intact when it aired elsewhere.
Biography from Wikipedia