Jones secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance-club hits. In the late 1970s, she adapted the emerging New Wave music style and adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. In 1981, her "Pull Up to the Bumper" spent seven weeks at #2 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart, and became a Top 5 single on the U.S. R&B chart. Although she has yet to become a truly mainstream recording artist in the United States, much of Jones's musical output is very popular in American clubs as many of the singles were hits on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts. Jones was able to find mainstream success in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. Jones's most notable albums are Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Slave to the Rhythm, while her biggest hits (other than "Pull Up to the Bumper") are "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)", "Private Life", "Slave to the Rhythm" and "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect for You)". During the 1970s, she also became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively During this era she regularly went to the New York City nightclub Studio 54.
Jones is also an actress. Her acting occasionally overshadowed her musical output in America; but not in Europe, where her profile as a recording artist was much higher. She appeared in some low-budget films in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her work as an actress in mainstream film began in the 1984 fantasy-action film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. In 1986 she played a vampire in Vamp, and both acted in and contributed a song to the 1992 film Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. In 2001, she appeared in Wolf Girl alongside Tim Curry.
Life and career
Background and early careerGrace Jones was born in Spanish Town, the daughter of Marjorie and Robert W. Jones, who was a politician and Apostolic clergyman. Her parents took Grace and her brothers Chris and Bishop Noel Jones and relocated to Syracuse in 1965. Before becoming a successful model in New York City and Paris, Jones studied theatre at Onondaga Community College. In the 1973 film Gordon's War, Jones played the role of Mary, a Harlem drug courier.
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-oriented 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 "On Your Knees" or "Do or Die" and standards such as "What I Did for Love" from musical A Chorus Line, Jacques Prévert's "Autumn Leaves", "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music and Édith Piaf's signature tune "La Vie en rose". During this period, she also became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively. Jones also accompanied him to New York City nightclub Studio 54 on many occasions. The colorful artwork and design for Jones' three first albums and accompanying single releases were created by another of Warhol's longtime collaborators, Richard Bernstein, arguably best known for his many cover illustrations for Interview Magazine in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1978, she appeared with French model and singer Amanda Lear in the controversial six-episode Italian TV series Stryx.
Early 1980s: Compass Point Studios periodAt the beginning of the 1980s, 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, and recording at Blackwell's Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, she released the acclaimed album Warm Leatherette in 1980. This included re-imaginings of songs by The Pretenders ("Private Life"), Roxy Music ("Love Is the Drug"), Tom Petty ("Breakdown"), The Normal ("Warm Leatherette") and Smokey Robinson ("The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game"). The record met with even greater success than her previous disco albums and the song "Private Life" was her first to enter UK Singles Chart, still remaining one of her highest-charting singles in that country. Parallel to her musical shift was an equally dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude. Jones adopted a severe, androgynous look, with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. The cover photographs of Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing exemplified this new identity.
1981 saw the release of Nightclubbing, a rapid follow-up to Warm Leatherette. Jones chose a number of well-known hits to reinterpret, including The Police's "Demolition Man", Iggy Pop's and David Bowie's "Nightclubbing" and Ástor Piazzolla's "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)". The latter would become one of the Jones's most recognizable tunes and the self-penned, post-disco dance track "Pull Up to the Bumper", which spent seven weeks at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, and became a Top 5 single on the U.S. R&B chart when released as a single in the fall of 1981. However, both Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing albums also included a few tracks co-written by Jones herself, such as "A Rolling Stone" and "Feel Up". In the UK, Nightclubbing claimed the number one slot on music magazine New Musical Express' Album of the Year listing. In 1981, Jones, appearing alongside noted psychotherapist Sonja Vetter, caused a controversy slapping 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 1981 and 1982, Jones toured the UK, Continental Europe, Scandinavia and the US with her One Man Show, a performance art/pop theatre presentation devised by Jean-Paul Goude and Jones herself, in which she performed tracks from the albums Portfolio, Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing 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 next year. Her collaboration with Blackwell, Sadkin and the Compass Point All Stars continued with the dub reggae-influenced album Living My Life (1982), which featured the self-penned "My Jamaican Guy", sung in patois and a cover of "The Apple Stretching" by Melvin Van Peebles. In 1984, Jones's work as an actress in mainstream film began, with the role of Zula, the Amazon, in Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and former NBA player Wilt Chamberlain. She next landed the role of May Day in the fourteenth James Bond movie A View to a Kill.
Late 1980s and 1990sIn the mid-1980s, she worked with Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley for the conceptual musical collage Slave to the Rhythm, which was released in the fall of 1985. The well-received album consisted of several re-workings of the title track, which is arguably the most popular song ever delivered by Grace Jones. Although never charted in the USA, the single did well in the UK, peaking at number 12. Slave to the Rhythm, together with Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing albums, is now recognized as one of Grace Jones's best works. In December, her first retrospective album was released. Island Life collected most of the singles from her 1977 debut up to recent 1985 hits. It included new versions of "Love Is the Drug" and "Pull Up to the Bumper," which were re-issued and charted again. Her next studio release, the first album after leaving the Island Records label, was Inside Story (1986), on which she worked with Nile Rodgers. It 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. The same year Grace appeared in a vampire film Vamp where she played a queen vampire.
Her ninth studio album, Bulletproof Heart (1989), spawned the Number 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 Clivillés. The second and the final single, "Amado Mio", was a cover version of the song used in 1946 film Gilda and originally performed by Rita Hayworth. Bulletproof Heart met with lukewarm reception. In 1992 Jones appeared in Eddie Murphy film Boomerang, for which she also contributed the song "7 Day Weekend" to its soundtrack, and released two more singles in 1993: "Evilmainya", recorded for the film Freddie as F.R.O.7, and "Sexdrive". She 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, on which she worked with trip hop musician Tricky. The release of Force of Nature was cancelled due to a disagreement between them and only a white label 12" single featuring two dance mixes of "Hurricane (Cradle to the Grave)" was issued; a slowed-down version of this song became the title track of her comeback album released ten years later. In 1999 she appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Umpatra Warrior.
Recent careerIn 2000, Jones cut "The Perfect Crime", an up-tempo song for Danish TV written by the composer duo Floppy M. A year later, she appeared alongside Tim Curry in Wolf Girl (also known as Blood Moon), as a transvestite circus performer named Christoph/Christine. On May 28, 2002, she performed onstage in Modena, Italy with Italian opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti during his annual Pavarotti and Friends concert to support the United Nations refugee agency's programs for Angolan refugees in Zambia.[ Together they performed the aria "Pourquoi me réveiller?" from Jules Massenet's opera Werther. In November 2004, Jones sang her hit "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for record producer Trevor Horn at London's Wembley Arena. In April 2005 Jones raised a controversy, when she 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 had been mistreated. In February 2006, Jones was the celebrity runway model for Diesel's show in New York.
Ivor Guest confirmed that he and Jones had completed recording her new album in 2007. Other participants on the album included the original Compass Point All Stars lineup, including Sly and Robbie, Mikey Chung and Wally Badarou, joined by Brian Eno, Bruce Woolley, Tricky and Tony Allen. The Hurricane album (initially to be titled Corporate Cannibal) was released on October 27, 2008, on Wall of Sound/PIAS Records, meeting with positive reviews. "Corporate Cannibal" became the album's lead single, with its music video directed by Nick Hooker. Jones embarked on a concert tour at the end of 08 and beginning of 09, and appeared at Secret Garden Party and Latitude Festival to promote the new album. The video for the second single, "Williams' Blood", used live footage from the Hurricane Tour. Grace Jones also collaborated with the avant-garde poet Brigitte Fontaine on a duet named " Soufi" from Fontaine's latest album 'Prohibition' released in the fall 2009, and produced by Ivor Guest.On April 26, 2010 Grace Jones performed at Royal Albert Hall, receiving rave reviews. A One Man Show was finally released on DVD, as Grace Jones - Live in Concert, in 2010 with 3 bonus videoclips ("Slave to the Rhythm", "Love Is the Drug" and "Crush"). "Love You to Life", the third single off Hurricane, was released on May 2, 2010.
Ivor Guest announced that he had completed producing Hurricane in Dub which features a dub version of every track from the Hurricane album. Jones may release the "lost" album Black Marilyn independently, along with a compilation of tracks recorded between Bulletproof Heart and "Hurricane". Also on the way is a 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Nightclubbing from Island Records to coincide with the record labels 50th Anniversary. Originally scheduled for release in 2009, Universal Music Group, the company that currently holds the rights to the Island Records back catalogue, have now delayed the release indefinitely.
Grace Jones again collaborated with the French avant-garde poet Brigitte Fontaine on two tracks (Dancefloor and La Caravane) on Fontaine's 2011 release entitled "L'un n'empêche pas l'autre". (This album also produced by Ivor Guest).
Style, image and voiceNew Wave music style and adopted a severe, androgynous look, with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude.She would also exemplify the so-called "flat top" hairstyle in many of her concerts in the 1970s, which would become popular among black men in the 1980s. Her first album cover to feature this hairstyle was 1980's Warm Leatherette. Her strong visual presence was an advantage for her music videos and concert tours. In her concert 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)" and the 1986 vampire film Vamp. Grace Jones's striking appearance, height (5'10½" or 1.79 m), and manner influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s. To this day, she is known for her unique look at least as much as she is for her music and has been an inspiration for numerous other artists, including Annie Lennox and Lady Gaga. She is also recognized as one of the greatest gay icons.
Jones is a contralto. Although her image became equally as notable as her voice, she is 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 voice spans two and a half octaves.