Jamaica Gleaner / After receiving an award from Voice of the Women (VOW) for her contribution on the world’s stage, Carolyn Cooper engaged the Jamaican actress, model, and singer Grace Jones in a brief but tell-all conversation about her career. The responses were witty, frank, and advisable.
The Gleaner columnist got the conversation going with, “When did you know that you wanted to be a singer?”
“I did not know. I think that was what God wanted. I think that God had planned it that way before I was born,” Jones replied.
Initially, Jones did not want to be a singer. She thought her voice was too deep. She was, however, encouraged by her German teacher, who told her that “every voice is different”. She faced obstacles like producers who wanted her to change from singing in her natural deep voice. Her career turned around through collaboration and meeting the right people with the right intentions.
Her advice is to be open-minded, be clear in what you want to achieve, make the right decisions, be willing to learn, and do the best you can.
BREAKTHROUGH IN PARIS
Meeting the right people and networking were also instrumental in propelling her modelling career. With only room for one black model in New York, Jones decided to be experimental. She moved to Paris, where her career took off, making it on the cover of Elle and other established fashion lines and magazines.
Cooper wanted to know how she managed to “buss out”, a question Jones said the late Michael Jackson once asked her. She answered by saying that there is a lot of hypocrisy in the Church – that the Church was like a business, and pastors were actors.
But not all were like that. Her father, a bishop, supported her and carried a picture of her secretly, this in spite of the advice from members of his church to shun her. In a television interview in South Africa, he said, “She is just doing her job.”
Cooper also wanted to know about the impact of Jamaica on her decisions and career. The initial response was unexpected. She, along with her siblings, were glad to leave the country of their birth. They planned never to return. The ghost of their pain was too much.
Jones, who grew up in the Pentecostal Church, described her upbringing as “living in a bubble, surrounded by bishops”. The teaching of the Church was restrictive.
She said that her aunt, Sybil, told her that she needed to discover Jamaica for herself. She spent two weeks touring and fell in love with her home country, and now, “I am here a lot”.