Virtual reggae series honours Black History Month and legacy of Denise Jones

A Brampton, Ont., man is marking Black History Month with a virtual tribute to reggae legends. Jesse Jones says this year is special because the event is dedicated to his trailblazing mother.

Jesse Jones says he's been 'training' to follow in his mother's footsteps his entire life

Son of Jamaican-Canadian icon Denise Jones shares her legacy

2 years ago
Duration 4:42
A Brampton man is honouring both Black History Month and Reggae Month by putting on a virtual series of performances by Canadian artists — all while sharing his mother's legacy. Denise Jones was a force in the Jamaican-Canadian music industry. She died in December after being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2019. Talia Ricci spoke to her son, Jesse Jones, about his plans to continue in her footsteps.

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."

Denise Jones is seen with her son, Jesse. Since her death, stories about her influence have been pouring out on social media from artists she mentored to politicians. (Jerimi Jones)

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.



Talia Ricci is a CBC reporter based in Toronto. She has travelled around the globe with her camera documenting people and places as well as volunteering. Talia enjoys covering offbeat human interest stories and exposing social justice issues. When she's not reporting, you can find her reading or strolling the city with a film camera.