Denise Jones is dead

Entertainment

Denise Jones is dead

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor ---
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, December 05, 2020

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DENISE Jones, co-founder of Canada's long-running JAMBANA One World Festival, passed away at her Ontario home on Thursday. She was 64.

Her brother, Professor Gary Oates, confirmed the impresario's passing.

“Her given name is actually Claudia; Denise was her middle name. She died at home in Brompton, Ontario, last [Thursday] night at approximately 8:30 pm. She was battling glioblastoma which is a severe form of brain cancer. She was diagnosed somewhere around June last year... She had surgery and never recovered since the surgery; she was completely bedridden since late November last year,” the professor of sociology at Bowling Green University in Ohio, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

According to Prof Oates, his sister was involved in several theatre productions before migrating to the Land of the Maple Leaf.

“While she still lived in Jamaica, she was a local stage actress who appeared in a number of local pantomines; and this is when pantomime was pantomime at the Ward Theatre [in Kingston] with full houses. She appeared alongside Oliver Samuels, who was a good friend of hers and who served as an emcee for JAMBANA for several years. There was a play written by Kay Osborne, Wipe That Smile From Your Face; Denise was one of the leads alongside Carl Bradshaw from the Harder They Come Fame... She appeared in a number of productions in Toronto after she migrated there,” he said.

Launched in 1987 by Jones and husband Allan, JAMBANA One World Festival featured performances by internationally acclaimed bands, artistes and JUNO Award winners.

In 1993, Jones started Reggaebana which infused reggae music into the predominantly soca and calypso flavoured Caribana Festival.

“She was extremely impactful in the Caribbean Diaspora community, especially in the Toronto area and all of Canada. She punched heavily... She was in many different realms – festival promotion, she was a first-rate event planner; she was for a time an artiste manager, booking agent. She wore several hats, all of them successfully,” said Professor Oates.

“Few tours passed through Canada without Denise having some kind of impact, in terms of booking, even if it wasn't her show. Very much an industry player. My proudest title is being Denise's little brother,” he added.

Born in Portland, Jones attended Hope Bay All-Age School and Titchfield High School in the parish. She did her undergraduate degree at University of Windsor in Canada. She returned to Jamaica in 1977, then migrated to Canada after getting married in the early 1980s and has lived there ever since.

In addition to husband Allan and brother Professor Oates, Jones is survived by educator mother Louise, sisters Devan Oates-Fraser and Angela Oates-Moses, and sons Jesse and Jerimi.


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