The singer, who had collaborated with everyone from Lou Reed to Michael Bublé, was 60 years old
Sharon Jones, the funk and soul vocalist best known for her work with the Dap-Kings, died of pancreatic cancer on Friday (18 November). She was 60 years old, and had first been diagnosed with the disease in 2013, although following a period of remission she had gone on to record three more albums.
Born in Augustus, Georgia on 4 May 1956, Sharon Jones grew up in South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. Although she sang in a gospel choir at church, and with various local funk bands, a career in music eluded her in her youth, and she worked instead as a prison officer and armoured car guard.
She finally got a break when she was selected to sing backing vocals for soul legend Lee Fields in her early 40s. A number of solo releases for Desco Records followed, but it was when Desco boss Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman of Desco-signed outfit Sugarman 3 set up Daptone Records in 2001 that her career really took off. Roth and Sugarman put together a house band for the label called The Dap-Kings, drawing members from two other Desco acts, The Soul Providers and The Mighty Imperials.
They invited Jones to join them, and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings' 2001 debut single Make It Good To Me was the label's very first release. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings would go on to record seven albums for the label, and became figureheads for a funk/soul revival in the 00s alongside the likes of New Mastersounds, The Rebirth, Haggis Horns and Lack Of Afro. Both would also continue to record separately, The Dap-Kings working with Amy Winehouse (on Back To Black), Lee Fields and Rickey Calloway and releasing the Nervous Like Me 7-inch on Kenny Dope's Kay-Dee Records label, while Jones collaborated with a broad range of artists from Phish to Lou Reed to Michael Bublé and appeared as a singer in the 2007 Denzel Washington movie The Great Debaters, as well as releasing solo records.
In 2013, Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She at first appeared to beat the disease, and recorded three more albums with The Dap-Kings, one of which was the soundtrack to a documentary about her life, Miss Sharon Jones!, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. But it was announced at that screening that her cancer had returned, and she died from complications related to the illness at Bassett Medical Centre in Cooperstown, NY on Friday.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
Pic: Kallerna/Creative Commons