TGIF! We aren’t just pumped that it’s Friday, we’re also excited to celebrate Grace Jones’ 75th birthday! To honor the iconic musician, actress, and gamechanger’s 75th trip around the sun, we’re taking a look back at 7 of her most memorable moments.
She Altered The State of Pop Music With Her 1981 Album, Nightclubbing.
Nightclubbing was one of those rare albums that defined an era.Its addictiv melodies and avant-garde visuals were unlike anything that had ever been seen before. Pitchfork stated that Nightclubbing is “a record that further cemented her iconic status in pop culture.” And we have to agree. Jones is still active in the music scene; in fact, she was included as a feature on Beyoncé’s song “MOVE” for her 2022 album Renaissance.
Her Subversive and Androgynous Style
Grace Jones is much more than an incredible performer, she’s also a style icon. In fact, She influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s. As stated by The New York Times, “her predatory, androgynous style subverted notions of race and gender.” This couldn’t be more true. Some of her most iconic looks include a blue and red jumpsuit (with matching red glasses of course) which she wore to a book release party for Madonna in 1992, and a bustier made to look like a woman’s chest which she wore at a performance in Amsterdam in 1981. Many of your favorite stars such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna have also been influenced by Jones’ unique and trendsetting style.
#OTD Grace Jones (May 19, 1948) Jamaican-American model, singer/songwriter, producer, actress. Jones influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s & has been an inspiration for many artists including Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Rihanna & Solange.
— Jazz the Professor (@LikeButta3) May 19, 2023
She Had her Own Exhibit at the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco
The exhibit in question was titled The Grace Jones Project, and it ran from April to September. The Grace Jones Project was “a collection of more than 20 contemporary artworks interspersed with vintage album covers, videos of her performances, and wall text detailing Jones’s global influence.” The exhibit also showcased work by artists who had been influenced by Jones over the years. Most of the art pieces dealt with the themes of Black identity, queerness, and how these idnetities intersect with art and self expression.
She’s a Knight
It’s true! Jones has obtained Knighthood status via the Order of Jamaica. Not only this, but she received the honor in style. As stated in an article written about the event, “As she glided up to the platform where Governor General Sir Patrick Allen stood waiting for her, her wide brimmed hat and A-shaped dress stood out.” Iconic.
happy 75th birthday to the iconic Grace Jones, who i just found out has knighthood with the Order of Jamaica. i see you, sista secret agent, i see you. pic.twitter.com/IEq33rBFnG
— upfromsumdirt (@upfromsumdirt) May 19, 2023
She’s Served as Inspiration for Multiple Superheroes
It’s been rumored that the creator of the X-Men character Rogue asked an illustrator to design the heroine in Jones’ likeness. Unfortunately, the illustrator then just drew a white character with a flattop. *Sigh*. That being said, apparently the first iterations of the X Men character Dazzler also had some character design inspo from Jones.
Wow, Grace Jones really inspired a lot of comic book artists. https://t.co/Zwxa3wISDJ https://t.co/Sz64IhU4au pic.twitter.com/8jOttFEJZH
— Craig Seymour, Black gay music critic (@craigspoplife) May 11, 2023
She’s Always Taken a Progressive Stance on Gender Expression
In a 1984 interview with Interview Magazine, Jones stated “The future is no sex. You can be a boy, a girl, whatever you want.” The quote was in reference to the fact that she often presents in an androgynous fashion. This also wasn’t the only time Jones commented on gender issues and gender fluidity, in a 2018 interview with W Magazine, Jones stated “I think the men that embrace their female side are the stronger men.” Clearly, Jones has been progressive and open-minded on gender for years now (and continues to be) which we love to see.
“The future is no sex. You can be a boy, a girl, whatever you want.”
Grace Jones, 1984 im „Interview Magazine“ pic.twitter.com/XIdPuLEFTv
— Rolf Saxer (@rolf_saxer) May 11, 2023
Her Hula-Hooping Act She Does at Her Shows
One thing Grace Jones has never been not, is boring. Ever. At her headlining performance for 2015’s Afropunk, Jones appeared on stage donning a tribal print that was designed for her by artist Keith Haring. During her grand finale, Jones performed her song, “Slave to the Rhythm” while both topless and hula-hooping. It was truly a sight to behold. Performers take note: there is no excuse for a boring performance, especially when Grace Jones literally hula-hooped for over three minutes straight while singing! (AND she does this at many of her shows!)
Grace Jones has truly had a legendary first 75 years. We’re wishing her a very happy birthday, and we can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future!
Top photo credit: Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons