Virtual reggae series honours Black History Month and legacy of Denise Jones
Jesse Jones says he's been 'training' to follow in his mother's footsteps his entire life
Sleeping underneath tables at music venues and depositing cheques after shows are some of Jesse Jones's early memories of growing up with parents who were passionate about promoting reggae music in Canada.
"She was teaching me," Jones said, referring to his mom, "making me comfortable with responsibility."
Jones is the head of Jones & Jones Group, housing Jones & Jones Productions, which was originally founded in the late 1980s by his parents Allan and Denise.
Denise Jones died in December after being diagnosed with glioblastoma — an aggressive type of brain cancer — in June 2019. She emigrated to Canada in the '80s from Portland, Jamaica and was known as a trailblazer in the entertainment industry.
"One of the things that stands out is her creation of the reggae music category for the Juno Awards," Jones said, adding she was also a strong activist.
"She was always about leading, bringing people with her; not just about opening a door for herself, opening a door for her people."
Jones & Jones Productions put on plays, concerts, festivals and elevated Afro-Caribbean culture and artists around the world.
Now, the torch has been passed on to Jesse, who will see the virtual Tribute to the Legends of Reggae: The Bob Marley Edition rolling out content throughout February for Black History Month. It will be dedicated to Denise.
"She actually passed a week after we finished shooting, so it was almost like the last event she was waiting to make sure it was good before she could sign off," Jones said.
"Always in her memory and everything that is being done now is guided by her footsteps."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.