National Heroes Day: Grace Jones receives award, Harry Belafonte ill

National Heroes Day
National Heroes Day award recipients (from l. to r.): Giuseppe Francesco Maffessanti, Grace Jones, Earl Wesley Jarrett, and Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Godfrey Dyer. Credit: JIS

Jamaican fans of veteran Jamaican American entertainer Harry Belafonte, 91, who were looking forward to see him receive the Jamaican honor of the Order of Merit (OM), were disappointed by his absence at the award ceremony at Kings House, the Governor General’s residence, on Monday, National Heroes Day in Jamaica.

Recovering from recent illness

The famous actor and singer, was being honored in recognition for his outstanding contribution to the field of music. However, according to reports the man popular for hits such as ‘The Banana Boat Song, “Jamaica Farewell” and “Island in the Sun” was reportedly unable to travel to Jamaica for the ceremony as he is recovering from a recent illness and wasn’t cleared to travel. According to the reports,  Belafonte has given assurance that he will be traveling to Jamaica at a later date to accept the award. a.

Belafonti was actually born in Harlem, New York, to a Jamaican mother, and a father from Martinique, but spent eight years of his early life in Jamaica where he attended school.

His 1956 album, ‘Calypso’ was the first album to sell over a million copies within a year. As a movie actor Belafonte started in popular films like Carmen Jones, opposite Dorothy Dandridge in 1964, Island in The Sun, Buck and the Preacher, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Uptown Saturday Night.

Grace Jones excited to be honored

Meanwhile, another Jamaica international entertainer, Grace Jones, model, singer, actress, author and film producer Grace Jones was at Kings House to receive the Order of Jamaica (OJ) awarded to her in recognition for her contribution to the field of international entertainment.

During a recent interview with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Jones in referring to being honored by the Jamaican government said, “I am excited. It is a great honor. I love Jamaica so much, which makes it even better… This award is very special,” she said.

Jones formerly for famous fashion houses like Yves St Laurent and Kenzo. She appeared on the covers of Elle and Vogue. As a sultry singer her albums included Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Slave to the Rhythm. As an actress she appeared in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill, and Boomerang with Eddie Murphy, Halle Barry and Robin Givens.

Jones was born and raised in Spanish Town, Jamaica in a strict religious environment. She migrated to the US at age-12 to join her parents in New York.


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