by VVN Music
By far, one of the most exciting artists to hit her stride in the last half-decade is Sharon Jones who, along with the Dap Kings, have brought hard driving traditional soul music back to the forefront.
Not that she hasn't been working at it for much longer. Early in her life, she sang gospel music in churches and performed with local funk bands at talent shows during the 70's. She later became a corrections officer on Riker's Island and an armored car driver for Wells Fargo to make ends meet.
In 1996, while backing funk singer Lee Fields, Jones was spotted by the owners of the French label Pure Records. They were so impressed that they brought her in the studio to record two songs that ended up on an album by the group The Soul Providers. Soon, that band and another local group, Antibalas, would come together to form the Dap Kings.
After a few singles for the now defunct Desco Records, Jones and the Dap Kings released their first full length album, Dap Dappin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings on the brand new Daptone Records in 2002. Four more albums were released, Naturally (2005), 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007), I Learned the Hard Way (2010) and Soul Time! (2011) before Sharon received devastating news about her health.
On June 3, 2013, it was announced that Jones was suffering for bile duct cancer which was later changed to stage 2 pancreatic cancer. She fought the disease, performing throughout although the chemotherapy had caused her to lose her hair and eyelashes, and eventually was declared cancer free but, in late-2015, she announced that it had returned.
The story of Sharon Jones, including her early years but especially covering the time from 2013 to 2015, are the subject of the new documentary Miss Sharon Jones! which hits select theaters this weekend. Directed by Barbara Kopple (Harlan County U.S.A.), the film premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival.
Here is the official trailer and two clips from the film: