Filmmaker Sophie Finnes followed Jones for a decade, to Jamaica visiting family, on tour in Paris and New York, and to the recording studio for her 2008 album Hurricane. Concert footage of Jones's always-remarkable performances illuminate her story, particularly her poignant autobiographical lyrics.
Jones's grand-stepfather Mas P beat Grace and her brothers so thoroughly that he had different sized belts for the purpose hanging on the wall, each of which he had a name for. Her stage persona acts out the rage her childhood bred in her:
This is a plate, this is a cup
This is a story I didn't make up
This is a girl lost in the woods
Some kind of wagon from some other 'hood
This is the paper
This is the pen
This is my weapon
A means to an end
In one scene, Grace prepares for a concert while reminiscing about her dance queen days. "People just wanted to dance, you know, and they just were doing hallucinogenics and wanted to dance. It was like—like going to church. I mean, serious, disco was like going to church."
In her 2015 book I'll Never Write My Memoirs, Jones writes, "Jamaican people shouldn't do cocaine. They should stick to marijuana. Certain things grow in certain places for a reason....The Jamaicans should stay laid-back, have a joint, and chill. That's why God lets marijuana grow so freely there....It suits the locals' temperaments, as something that seemed imbued with spiritual, medicinal, and religious properties."
Girl knows her drugs. "What counts is when I die, I want to die happy," she says. Anyone who can shimmy like that at 70 is doing something right.
*I confirmed with Leary's archivist Michael Horowitz that he and Grace were "great friends. She visited his house often in Beverly Hills and they went to discos together. I think she is the one Tim had in mind when he said he was going to have his head removed after he died and kept 'alive' to be transplanted onto the body of a tall Black woman when such things are possible."