Modern Griots Reviews: State of Grace – Grace Jones Retrospective

Grace Jones Retrospective at Joe's PubGrace Jones’ exemplified “the human right to self-express,” singer Davi said before he performed Jones’ song “Living My Life.” The Jamaican-born British singer did just that with her commanding stage presence never apologizing for who she is, her androgynous look, striking beauty and out-of-this-world style. And neither did any other of the performers for the night matching Jones’ suave and yet assertive persona.

Presented by Black Rock Coalition, who will be celebrating 30 years next year, and curated by musicians Gordon Voidwell and Tecla,the show featured several musicians, including Daví, Tamara Renee, Angelica Bess (Body Language), Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), and Bryndon Cook (Starchild, singing their own tributes to various Jones’ songs. Joining them in the band were other noteworthy names from the co-curator Tecla on keytar to Val Jeanty on electronic percussion.

Angelica Bess at Grace Jones Retrospective
Angelica Bess

A couple of years ago, I attended Black Rock Coalition’s tribute to Betty Davis, another fierce singer and performer, which feature the likes of Tamar Kali, Joi and KimberlyNichole, so I was excited for this one and it did not disappoint. In fact, the mood of the show was set with Betty Davis songs playing right before the show. Opening the show was Shannon Funchess singing “Nightclubbing” looking mysteriously cool in her black round-rimmed sunglasses and small-brimmed black hat with the rest of her black attire. The other performers followed suit with their black attire suggestive of Jones’ own black wardrobe throughout her career; Renee sweetly sung “La Vie En Rose” and “Am I Ever Gonna Fall in Love in New York City;” Daví with his long black scarf worked as a veil hauntingly sang “I’ve Seen That Face Before,” and later “Living My Life;” Bess posed with attitude as she sang “My Jamaican Guy” and “Walking in the Rain;” and Starchild on lead guitar rocked to “Nipple to the Bottle.” All of the performers came together to end the night with the electrifying numbers, “Feel Up and “Pull Up to My Bumper.

One of the performers who I want to give special spotlight to is Davon Rainey, who looked fierce himself in Grace Jones-inspired garb, makeup and heels. He looked like an artpiece, or the physical embodiment of the spirit of Grace Jones, in the room as she strutted and bent his body into various moves. You couldn’t help but look at him whether on or off the stage, where he joined us. Basically, everyone was rocking in their seats that night from beginning to end and the show, which lasted only a little over an hour, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

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