Over a synth-heavy beat with a touch island melody, Grace Jones once sang, “I’ll never write my memoirs, there’s nothing in my book.” The line comes from the song “Art Groupie,” which was first featured on her Nightclubbing album released through Island Records in 1981. The track was recorded in the Bahamas at Chris Blackwell’s Compass Point Studios and produced by none other than Jamaican rhythm masters, Sly and Robbie. Jones was also born in Jamaica and at the time that Nightclubbing released she was moving away from her musical style of the 1970s. Her reinvented sound blended a heavy reggae influence with post-punk and new wave, and is widely considered to be her defining musical work. She had already traveled to Paris and made her mark on the fashion world; held office with Andy Warhol in Studio 54; and released a number of successful disco albums. But the way she was able to use the project to blend art, culture, music, and fashion was what made her an international star.
Now 34 years have passed since Jones co-wrote “Art Groupie” and she has since decided that if she doesn’t tell her story, “somebody else will.” Drawing from the song’s defiant hook her much-anticipated memoir will be titled, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. From modeling for Yves Saint-Laurant and sleepovers with Jessica Lange to redefining pop music and acting in a number of movies, her life has been nothing short of fascinating. It is a story that many people have long hoped she would tell and as of September 29th will finally be published by Gallery Books. It should come as no surprise that the former model looks as stunning as ever on the cover.
Aside from telling her story, Jones has some additional projects forthcoming as well including a BBC produced documentary called Grace Jones: The Musical of My Life. Billboard describes it as, “a cinematic journey into the private and public worlds of Grace Jones, mixing intimate personal footage with unique staged musical sequences.” The film has been in the works for seven years and will be directed by Sophie Fiennes. While it is Fiennes first musical documentary she has a number of other full-length films under her belt including The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology and Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow.
Also, on the weekend of August 22nd and 23rd Jones headlines Brooklyn’s Afropunk Festival joining Lenny Kravitz, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Danny Brown, Suicidal Tendencies, and a number of other artists. The festival takes place in Commodore City Park, also known as City Park and she is slated to perform on Saturday night. Her live shows are often as theatrical as they are musical and there is little doubt that she will bring her own brand of funk to the festival stage.
For an artist that was so central to the art, music, and fashion culture of the 1980s it is not surprising that her legacy remains relevant today, but even so, she is having an exceptionally busy year. Her memoir has all the makings to be one of the more interesting book releases of 2015 and it will likely include a number of wild stories from the late ’70s, early ’80s era. It is hard to imagine some of the things she saw during her marathon nights in Studio 54 or what she has to say about choking out Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Conan The Destroyer. Grace Jones has certainly lived an incredible life and it is our treat that between her book and the upcoming film, her story will be shared intimately. For those who have yet to see her perform live, Afropunk is also a great opportunity.
Burnin’ and Lootin’ is a column by Robert Gordon that showcases upcoming artists, musicians, poets, and entertainers from the Caribbean. From Kingston to Miami to New York City and beyond the Caribbean continues to have a lasting cultural impact and each week we look at one individual or group that is helping to promote island culture through the arts.