Grace Jones

Slave To The Rhythm

Grace Jones (b. 1948) is a Jamaican-American singer, model and actress. She 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 electronic music style and adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. Jones is a contralto, the deepest female classical singing voice. 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 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.

In 1981, her ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’ became a Top 5 single on the US R&B chart. 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.’

Jones, had a string of dance-club hits and a large gay following in the 1970s. 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 the 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 the 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.’

At 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 the 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’), and Smokey Robinson (‘The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game’).

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