Wed | Feb 8, 2023

'She leaves behind an inspiring legacy'

Late Denise Jones named for 2022 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2022 | 12:07 AM


Jamaica-born black entertainment trailblazer Denise Jones will be posthumously awarded the 2022 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award as part of this year’s annual JUNO Awards festivities.

The announcement was made by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).

Jones, who passed away in December 2020 after being diagnosed with brain cancer, spent a lifetime championing Afro-Caribbean culture in Canada and around the world through her company, Jones & Jones Productions. She also established the internationally renowned JAMBANA One World Festival, and was the founding chair of the reggae category for the JUNO Awards.

The Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award recognises individuals whose work has significantly impacted the growth and development of the Canadian music industry.

Named after legendary Canadian publisher and co-founder of the JUNO Awards, this year’s award will be handed over at the JUNO Opening Night Awards, presented by Ontario Creates on Saturday, May 14, and streamed live on CBC Gem, and globally at

Throughout her career, Jones received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada, the Bob Marley Memorial Award for her work in entertainment, a Government of Ontario Community Service Award, a Ministry of Citizenship Ontario Government Award, an African Canadian Achievement Award, and a Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Entertainment. She was also named one of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2018.

“Growing up around my mother’s presence made me believe that things are possible. I saw her achieving and realising, every single day. I am forever grateful for that, because I think that’s the most important thing you can give somebody, hope and belief in themselves. Mom did this for us at home and as she passed away, I also came to realise she was doing that for a lot of other people, too. She created a pathway for myself and many others in this country to follow, and we’re committed to keeping that energy, that fire and legacy alive for generations to come,” said Jesse Jones.

“Denise Jones will forever be an important and respected figure in the Canadian entertainment industry,” said Allan Reid, president & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards. “She leaves behind an inspiring legacy, and we are honoured to recognise her devotion to championing black culture and artistes throughout her career.”

Jones emigrated to Canada from Portland, Jamaica, in the 1980s and earned her BA in communications and theatre from the University of Windsor. She went on to serve as a theatre critic/arts reporter for CBC Radio in Sudbury, then as an executive director for the Peel Multicultural Council, where she later resided. Jones’ roots in entertainment, along with her passion for championing under-represented art forms and artists, inspired her to create Jones & Jones Productions with her husband Allan Jones in 1987.


Among her many accomplishments, Jones established the second-largest Afrocentric cultural event in Canada, JAMBANA One World Festival, which, at its height, drew over 45,000 attendees. It was named one of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals in 2015.

Denise Jones’ renowned accomplishments have been recognised far and wide, with Prime

Minister Justin Trudeau calling her “an incredible advocate for Caribbean arts and culture [who] contributed so much to our country”.

The 51st Annual JUNO Awards and JUNO Week will be hosted in Toronto from Monday, May 9, through to Sunday, May 15, culminating in The JUNO Awards Broadcast, produced by Insight Productions, at Budweiser Stage, live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, CBC Listen, and globally on