The Queen Of Dancehall Shares What It Takes To Build And Maintain Wealth As An Artist And Entrepreneur Who Overcame Poverty
Internationally known as Spice, Grace Hamilton has earned the title of the “Queen of Dancehall” music for her contributions to the genre throughout her 20-year career. Jamaica-born and bred, Hamilton knew from the age of 12 that she was destined for greatness. Her late father confirmed that notion earlier in her childhood before he passed away when she nine-years-old.
Having grown up in poverty, Hamilton’s life in the Old Britain community in Portmore, Jamaica, was full of rich moments with her parents and five siblings. Watching her mother catch fish and sell it at her restaurant by the water gave her an entrepreneurial spirit. And sharing a bed with all of her siblings nurtured grit and ambition within her.
Fast forward two decades, Hamilton is a Billboard-charting artist and serial entrepreneur who has made good on the promise she made to her younger self to work hard enough to make it out of poverty. Now, she encourages other women who have similar backgrounds to thrive no matter their profession.
Lydia T. Blanco: No one who has made it from rags to riches plans to go back. What did your plan entail as you rose to fame?
Grace “Spice” Hamilton: I tell my mom that she’s my inspiration because I watched her struggle with all of us. She truly made something out of nothing. My mother would cook one pound of rice and make sure that we all were full. We felt like we had ten pounds of rice! I come from humble beginnings, and I managed to overcome all of the adversity and boss up. On top of that, I lost my house due to a fire when I was in high school. I remember coming back from school, and my house was gone. My tagline now is, “From Homeless to Owning Houses.” Now, I own multiple homes between Jamaica and Atlanta. My journey has been a rough one, but I always tell people, “It’s not how you start the race. It’s how you end that. matters.”
My plan as an artist was to become successful. I always wanted to be unique, energized, and keep people on their feet. My music makes you want to move. That’s why I continually reinvent things and stay consistent. Many people don’t know, but I started when I was young and made a name for myself. When you hear Spice, there is a dancehall song that most people remember. Whether it’s old or new, my goal is to make good music that will last forever.
Blanco: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, what are some ways you practice showing up for yourself?
Hamilton: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I believe my stagecraft and versatility allow me to stand out. I think my adaptability to perform so very well on stage also gives me an edge over everyone else because dancehall music has a lot to do with performances and stage presence. I am unique, and I am one of the first artists in Jamaica to start wearing colored hair, like blue wigs. When I used to wear blue wigs, people used to think I was crazy, and now, in my twenty years in the business, it’s a trend to wear all this colored hair in Jamaica.
Blanco: Accumulating wealth takes time, and managing it requires discipline. Can you share how you’ve been able to do both?
Hamilton: I believe that it is important to create multiple income streams to build wealth. I have multiple streams of income and various businesses. I own my label, Spice Official Entertainment, a clothing brand Graci Noir, and I own Faces & Laces, which provides full lace wigs, beauty, skincare, and more.
Managing multiple businesses isn’t easy. As an entrepreneur, you have to make the best and sometimes hard decisions about hiring and firing. You can’t tag along with people who don’t have the same vision as you or share the same dream.
Blanco: What has inspired the launches of your businesses?
Hamilton: My past has inspired them. The fact that I’ve been so poor and I never want to go back there. I am also a mother with two kids and I’m working diligently to break the generational curse of being born into poverty. I’m still working hard to create a bright future for all of us.
Blanco: What advice do you have for women as they push boundaries and pursue their dreams?
Hamilton: Never to take no for an answer. As long as you believe in yourself and your product, go for it—even if others don’t believe in it. Two things I live by are prayer and hard work. It doesn’t matter what you have right now. Pray hard, work hard, and you will be successful.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.