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Grace Jones

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AboutGrace Jones (born Grace Mendoza on May 19, 1948, in Spanish Town, Kingston, Jamaica) is a model, singer and actress.

Raised in Syracuse, New York, she found success in the 70s as a model, working in New York and Paris, before rising to public prominence as a singer and personality.

Musical career
Jones secured a record deal with Island Records, which resulted in a string of club hits and attracted a large gay following. The three disco albums she recorded - Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978), and Muse (1979) - generated dance singles such as "Sorry"/"That's The Trouble," "I Need A Man," and a classic cover of Édith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose." During this period, she also became a muse to Andy Warhol, appearing in his portraits and accompanying him to Studio 54 on many occasions.

As the 70s drew to a close, Jones adapted the emerging New Wave music to suit a different style, a significant departure from her previous output that resulted in some of her most successful work. Still with Island, and now working with producers Alex Sadkin and Chris Blackwell, 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, and Tom Petty, as well as originals like the Billboard Top 20 single "Pull Up To The Bumper" and "I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)."

Parallel to her musical shift was an equally dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude, who she eventually married and had a son with. 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 exemplified this new identity. Her collaboration with Sadkin and Blackwell continued with the dub reggae-influenced album Living My Life, which featured "Nipple To The Bottle," "The Apple Stretching," and the Jones-penned and much-sampled "My Jamaican Guy."

Later in the 80s, she worked with Trevor Horn for the conceptual musical collage Slave to the Rhythm (1985), and with Nile Rodgers for Inside Story (1986) - her first album away from the Island label. The well-received Slave to the Rhythm was an album that consisted of several remixes of the title track. Inside Story produced her last US Hot 100 hit to date, "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You),". Bulletproof Heart in 1989 produced the #1 US club hit "Love on Top of Love - Killer Kiss," produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivilles. Although she never became a truly mainstream recording artist, much of her musical output was popular on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Chart and many of her songs are regarded as classics to this day.

Although Grace Jones was one-of-a-kind, her dominant, mascular attire and manner was a clear influence on the "power dressing" movement of the 1980s, and on musical artists such as Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics. She would also exemplify the "box" haircut style in the 70's, which would be worn by many Black men all over America throughout much of the next decade, notably Larry Blackmon of the funk group Cameo. For a brief time she was one of a few entertainers who could balance a recording and acting career simultaneously, and indeed her film roles and modelling work often overshadowed her musical output. Her strong visual presence extended to her stage work. Her performances were unique spectacles; she adopted various personas and wore outlandish costumes, particularly during her years with Goude. One memorable performance was at the Paradise Garage in 1985, wherein she collaborated with legendary visual artist Keith Haring for her costume.

Grace Jones was no stranger to controversy. In 1981 Grace Jones slapped chat show host Russell Harty across the face live on air after he turned to interview other guests. This later topped a 2006 BBC poll of most shocking TV chat show moments. She was featured in the September 1987 issue of Playboy magazine with Dolph Lundgren. In April 2005, she was escorted off a train by British police after a row with a female ticket inspector.

Grace Jones still performs. In November of 2004, she performed her hit "Slave to the Rhythm" at a tribute concert for Trevor Horn at Wembley arena. She received rave reviews, despite being absent in the music scene for some time. In February 2006, Grace was the celebrity runway model for Diesel's show in New York. She strutted the runway, with her own fierce attitude and style. Since that appearance, rumours have circulated of a comeback.

Film career

Grace Jones as May Day in "A View to a Kill".Jones' work as an actress in mainstream film first began with the role of Zula, the amazon in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain. Previous to this she appeared in low-budget films, often with sexually explicit content. She next landed the role of May Day, in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. Jones was regarded by some critics as the best thing about the otherwise-panned film (particularly when May Day surprised Bond by flipping him over in bed during a "love" sequence, insisting on taking the top role.)[citation needed] She appeared in a number of motion pictures including the 1986 vampire film, Vamp as well as the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang in 1992. She also appeared in an episode of the Beastmaster television series as the Impatra Warrior.

The voice
While some critics have suggested that Jones "speak-sings" often in her songs, she actually possesses a 2.5 octave range. Her natural baritone is used on songs like "Slave To The Rhythm," while she is able to hit high notes on "La Vie En Rose". The stylized "speak-sing" in general has been compared to an ancient singing technique which for centuries has been a part of some African cultures. Many of her recordings feature a monotone vocal style, as this fits her visual appearance, though Jones is a capable singer as she proved in the jazz number "Victor Should Have Been A Jazz Musician" from the album "Inside Story".

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