Like Josephine Baker nearly 50 years before her, it was when Jamaican-born Grace Jones left New York City and went to Paris in 1970 that she went from being mere Wilhelmina Agency model to international cause célèbre. Towering at nearly six feet, with an obsidian skin tone and facial features like flint rather than flesh, Grace Jones and her androgynous looks made her a sensation in the fashion world. She stalked the runways for Yves St. Laurent and Kenzo Takada, roomed with Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall, served as muse for photographers like Helmut Newton and appeared on the covers of Elle and Vogue.
Fashion world conquered, Jones then returned to NYC, habituated Studio 54 (sometimes in nothing more than her birthday suit), and conquered disco, recording three albums with the man who invented the very notion of the form, Tom Moulton. Jones' choice of covers on those albums ran the gamut from dreck like "Send in the Clowns" to a stunning rendition of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose," her flat monotone speak-singing voice atop a flamboyant overly-dramatic backdrop that veered often into camp. When the disco backlash began in earnest, Jones set her sights on a new realm to conquer: new wave.
In 1980, Grace Jones decamped to Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas where she worked with producers Alex Sadkin and Island Records' president Chris Blackwell, as well as a crack team of session musicians rooted by the rhythmic reggae force of Sly & Robbie. (This group would eventually be dubbed Compass Point All Stars, supplying island grooves for everyone from Robert Palmer to Tom Tom Club to Black Uhuru.) Across three critical and commercial hit albums spanning from 1980's Warm Leatherette through 1982's Living My Life --with the expanded reissue of 1981's Nightclubbing as her pinnacle-- Jones reinvented herself, while also altering the face of modern pop.