Forget those “neo-soul” or “revivalist” tags – the lady was pure soul.
By Fred Mills
Sharon Jones, diminutive dynamo frontwoman for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, has passed away at the age of 60, following a long battle with cancer. Initially diagnosed in 2013, the cancer had been in remission but then returned late last year. According to Rolling Stone, Jones had “announced that the cancer had returned at the premiere of Miss Sharon Jones!, a documentary detailing Jones’ life and career. The cancer would be elevated to stage four, with tumors spreading to her lung, liver and lymph nodes.”
Jones’ publicist issued the following brief statement announcing Jones’ death late yesterday (Nov. 18):
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.”
Jones Jones, of course, had come to fame and acclaim relatively late in life, as the Dap-Kings and the Daptone label didn’t take off until the early ’00s. Prior to that she’d worked as everything from a wedding singer to a corrections officer. Then the Dap-Kings, comprising members of the Soul Providers and the Sugarman 3, helped her put together her debut album in 2002, and the rest has essentially been history, Jones’ gradual but steady rise ultimately chronicled in the above-mentioned documentary.
On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to see her perform early on, around the time of 2005’s Naturally, at a small club in Asheville, NC – easily one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever witnessed. When she strutted out onto the stage, the band vamping behind her, the electricity level in the club immediately skyrocketed, and she proceeded to own the audience for the entire set. There was no doubt among audience members that this tiny woman could kick every single ass in the room. A number of years later I was in Austin for SXSW and caught the Daptone Super Soul Review at the considerably larger Moody Theater, and once again Jones and her Dap-Kings were in total command.
Photo credit: Susan Moll