Supermodel, turned singer, turned record producer and actress Grace Jones is all of the above and so much more. At 67, she’s still rocking interviews with the same energy, writing memoirs and still styling on us. Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica in 1948, she moved to New York in her teens and later launched her monumental career in modelling, covering the likes of Vogue, Elle and Stern.
Last year, Jones wrote a memoir after promising to do so in 1981 (in her song ‘Art Groupie’). It’s no secret that she’s inspired pop music and culture: from Rihanna to Kim. In her memoir she addresses her influence on her pop descendants:
“Rihanna… she does the body-painting thing I did with Keith Haring, but where he painted directly on my body, she wears a painted bodysuit. That’s the difference. Mine is on skin; she puts a barrier between the paint and her skin. I don’t even know if she knows that what she’s doing comes from me, but I bet you the people styling her know. They know the history.”
“The problem with the Doris’ and the Nicki Minaj’s and Miley’s is that they reach their goal very quickly. There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent. There will always be a replacement coming along very soon – a newer version, a crazier version, a louder version. So if you haven’t got a long-term plan, then you are merely a passing phase, the latest trend, yesterday’s event.”
Jones’ unpredictable style didn’t only spill out in the realms of music. Remember Kim K’s oiled body image that popped up? Yep. Grace. Photographed by Jean-Paul Goude – her long term collaborator and father of her only child. Reflecting in her memoir back to when he photographed Kim, Grace addressed him too.
“When he took a photograph of Kim Kardashian with a champagne glass perched on her ass in an impossible pose like the ones he did with me over thirty-five years ago, I asked him why he was giving her – a basic commercial product – his ideas? This seemed to contradict his spirit of integrity, which he has protected for so long. Why was he repeating himself, just to give her a little flare of publicity, quickly absorbed by the next puff of self-promotion?”
Ms Jones signed to Island records in 1977 and went on to lead the dance and new wave scene during the age of anti-disco. She was backed by Jamaican rhythm section duo Sly and Robbie, fluttering between the realms of reggae, rock and pop; her rock star status rocketed and has never really ceased to end.
Her most successful album, Nightclubbing, was released in 1981 and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed of the 80s. Rocking between dubby beats, disco energy and rock rifts, it’s broad in scope, featuring tracks produced by herself (above) Bill Withers, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.
She’s notorious for serving ultimate fierceness on stage as she does in front of a camera or doing interviews. Last year she was hula-hooping topless, during her performance at Afropunk festival.
Only Grace Jones could end a perfect set with a flawless rendition of Slave To The Rhythm… while hula hooping! pic.twitter.com/7Bq6eAoHZA
— Okayafrica (@okayafrica) August 23, 2015
Nobody can quite do it with the same razor-sharp slayage she brings.