A tour-de-force is being recognized by CARAS as the next recipient of the music industry-building Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.
The late Denise Jones, who tirelessly championed Black Caribbean culture and musicians in Canada as a principal of Jones & Jones Productions Ltd. with her husband Allan, is being honoured for her incredible efforts, with an emphasis on the "tireless."
The Toronto Star reported that upon the Brampton, ON-based Jones' recognition as one of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2018, she offered advice to those who might desire to follow in her footsteps: “Don’t let your address define you - choose your career from what you love and know that change is OK. Not one - but five - careers are possible for your generation.”
And the native of Port Antonio, Jamaica, more than lived up to her ambition. During her all-too-short 64 years on this planet, Jones transformed her roles of artist, manager, agent, media host, reporter, cultural archivist, educator, philanthropist, raconteur, impresario and promoter into a stunning success.
Emigrating to Canada from Portland, Jamaica in the 1980s, Jones earned a B.A. in Communications and Theatre from the University of Windsor and consequently served as theatre critic and arts reporter for CBC Radio in Sudbury.
Later, she served as Executive Director for the Peel Multicultural Council, creating Jones & Jones Productions Ltd. with her husband Allan in 1987. and made a profound and lasting impact in elevating the profile of Caribbean Canadian music artists.
It's no exaggeration that the majority of today's prominent Black Canadian artists, performers and executives - especially those from the Caribbean community - owe her a debt of gratitude for furthering their careers - Michie Mee, Exco Levi, Carla Marshall, Nana McLean, Kardinal Offishall, Vivian Barclay, Jonathan Ramos and Tony "Master T." Young - among them.
Reggae music knew no better Canadian ambassador than Denise Jones, whether it was as the co-founder/producer of the summer-held, Toronto-based Jambana World Festival, a reggae-driven Caribana alternative that annually drew 45,000 to Downsview Park; as the founding chair of the Juno reggae category, or promoting nearly 150 shows a year.
As an educator, teaching large-scale event production as Vice President, Marketing and Vice President, Education for the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners, and Concert and Festival Management at Ryerson University, many were touched by Jones' professionalism, enthusiasm and largesse.
She was also actively involved in the Jamaican Canadian Association and the Black Business and Professional Association.
Jones' legacy includes a Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Entertainment; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada; the Bob Marley Memorial Award; a Government of Ontario Community Service Award; a Ministry of Citizenship Ontario Government Award; an African Canadian Achievement Award - and now, the well-deserved recognition of Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.
This honour will fittingly ensure the memory of Denise Jones, who lost a valiant 18-month battle with glioblastoma on December 3, 2020, continues in perpetuity, says Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The Juno Awards.
“Denise Jones will forever be an important and respected figure in the Canadian entertainment industry,” said Reid in a statement.
“She leaves behind an inspiring legacy and we are honoured to recognize her devotion to championing Black culture and artists throughout her career.”
Jones, recognized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “an incredible advocate for Caribbean arts and culture [who] contributed so much to our country,” and her family members will be presented the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award on May 14, as presented by Ontario Creates.