“It’s about time I was asked”: Grace Jones to curate Meltdown festival

An icon of music, fashion, art and film, the one and only Grace Jones will curate Meltdown Festival 2020, putting together a ten-day playbook defined by her “defiantly unique creative vision” say organisers. Taking place at the Southbank Centre, London, the summer event will feature a roster of established and emerging artists who inspire and have been inspired by her, as well as a set of unique collaborative performances.

She follows in the footsteps of equally stellar curators including David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Patti Smith, Nick Cave, Lee Scratch Perry, Robert Smith, M.I.A. and last year’s lead, Nile Rodgers.

Jones said she was “honoured” by the appointment, commenting: “Year after year, the festival continues to spread its colourful wings, allowing its curators to bring together an array of diverse talent not seen anywhere else. It’s about time I was asked to curate Meltdown darling, don’t you think?!”

It marks a return to the festival for the musician, having performed in one of Meltdown’s renowned collaborative performances singing Disney songs with Nick Cave, Shane MacGowan, Pete Doherty and Jarvis Cocker, under Cocker’s curation in 2007. She returned in 2008 too, performing a two-hour set at Royal Festival Hall as part of Massive Attack’s curatorship.

Bengi Ünsal, head of contemporary music at Southbank Centre, said: “There’s no denying it: Grace Jones is unlike anybody else. She was the first artist who made me feel that I could express myself, be whatever I wanted to be, and not be afraid of what the world might say. She is one of the few living artists who can truly be described as iconic, with a relentlessly individualistic vision. I am truly honoured that she will share it with us for Meltdown 2020.”

Jones landed in the public eye as one of the first black supermodels before signing to Island Records in 1977, later becoming a frequenter and symbol of New York’s Studio 54-centred disco scene. Alongside acclaimed albums such as 1985’s Slave to the Rhythm and leading roles in films such as Roger Moore’s last James Bond outing, A View to a Kill, she has served as muse to everyone from Issey Miyake to Jean-Michel Basquiat, and served as inspiration to the likes of Björk and Lady Gaga.

Grace Jones’ Meltdown will take place at Southbank Centre, London from 12-21 June 2020.

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Grace Jones at Massive Attack’s Meltdown 2008

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Meltdown Festival curator 2020, Grace Jones