Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
The first thing you take away from an initial meeting with Chris Jones is the inability to shake the uncanny feeling that he does remind you of someone quite familiar.
Indeed, it's only on prodding that Chris Jones will reluctantly admit that he is the sibling of the internationally celebrated diva of film and music, Grace Jones. A point he does not dwell on as he is determined to be recognised and acknowledged for his own talents and contributions. He will also not tell you that his brother is the renowned tele-evangelist, Bishop Noel Jones.
It has been a very hard roe to hoe for Jones as he bears a striking resemblance to his sister and their bonding goes beyond blood. Grace and himself headlined a gospel group in Syracuse New York called the virtues that was headlined for their father, Bishop Robert Jones.
Bitten by the performance bug, the young Chris Jones, with his striking good looks and hint of the exotic, went on to carve out a name for himself as a model before actually moving to the business aspect of the industry by establishing his own modelling agency.
While managing his agency, the performance bug came calling again and he made cameo appearances as a singer. In Paris, he recorded his first single, American Lover, which earned rave reviews and was also a favourite on the European club scene.
The debut of the single American Lover was followed by his next release in New York City dubbed The Last Star. It became the toast of the underground music scene and a favourite dance number in the Big Apple before crossing the Atlantic to become a hot dance tune in European clubs and other hot spots.
It was at this juncture that Jones took a break from the music industry to concentrate on fashion, styling hair and make-up while running his modelling agency. While on his hiatus, however, his beloved sister Grace called, and off he went to London to assist her on her Hurricane album. He got so immersed in the music and club culture that he simply never moved back to Miami, where he had made his home after moving from New York.
Undaunted by his sister's star billing and international recognition, Chris Jones went back into the studios and released his debut album, Strong, now three years ago.
Outlook caught up with him at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston to talk about life. Indeed, Chris Jones makes for a striking study as he comes across as a reluctant artiste on his own journey as against one who set out to emulate and/or capitalise on the success of his sister.
He is indeed quite passionate about his own career, while being very supportive of his sister's, respectful of her achievement and yet not wanting to dwell on it to the point that it could be construed that he is indeed trading on it.
Being ever mindful that indeed doors have been opened because of his famed sister, Jones prefers to put his back to the wheel as he goes in search of his own stardom, and easily contextualise his relationship with her by saying she is one of six other siblings, whom he all loves dearly!
Now, the question faced by this writer is whether Chris Jones is another talentless hack trying to capitalise on his sister's name, or is he indeed a singer/performer of note?
Well, the answer to this uncomfortable question lies on his debut album, Strong.
The album has catchy dance tunes, speaks to the underground European club culture, and should see ravers snapping to the world rhythms as, indeed, the album was produced in New York, Jamaica, London, and Serbia. Jones borrowed Pink Floyd's backup girls for some of his tracks for this an album which when taken as a whole represents a meld of classical and soul rhythms drawn from around the world.
Indeed, Strong represents a collaborative effort as various producers, and artistes are represented as track such as No Flowers, No Trees was recorded with Ebby Drenthe, and Olivier Adams from Tienen; while the track Real Love is written and produced by Erwin Byrens from Antwerp, and The Rhythm of Love is produced by Julien Decheneux and Frank Gusting from Eupen.
It does give itself to dancing, however, and, so true to its core, has earned its place on the dance floors and discos of clubs, bubs, coffee shops and hip bars across Europe.
Jones, however, is your consummate artiste - true believer in his art and form, and this is what distinguishes him and sets him in an artistic class above the rest.