Passings: Sharon Jones (1956 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Sharon Jones, one of the most exciting voices to come out of the soul music genre in decades, has died after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 60.

An announcement was made on social media:
We are deeply saddened to announce Sharon Jones passed away today after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following organizations:

Cure Pancreatic Cancer - The Lustgarten Foundation

James Brown Family Foundation

Little Kids Rock

Additional memorial details will follow soon.
Jones was born in North Augusta, SC and moved to New York city while still young. With a total of ten children in the house (five siblings and four nieces and nephews), there was always music playing and the family would often imitate the dancing of James Brown who was a friend of Sharon's mother.  The influence could be seen in Jones' stage moves throughout her career.

As a teen, Jones sang gospel music in church and would enter talent shows fronting local funk bands. While she did work as a studio backup singer, Sharon made ends meet working as a corrections officer at Riker's Island and as a Wells Fargo armed guard.

In 1996, Jones did a session with Lee Fields that was put together by Gabriel Roth and Philip Lehman of the French label Pure Records. They were so impressed with Jones that they had her cut the track Swtichblade solo. The track made its way onto the album Soul Tequila by the Soul Providers, two groups that would soon merge into The Dap Kings.

Jones career languished even though her one track appeared on an updated version of Soul Tequila, Gimme a Paw on Desco Records but, in the early 2000's, she found herself once again working with the same musicians and recording the first album for the brand new Daptone Records, Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. The album got rapturous reviews from critics and lovers of soul and funk music and Jones went on the road with the band further growing her reputation as a non-stop soul tyrant.

The group released a new album every two to three years and toured relentlessly behind them but, on June 3, 2013, it was announced that Jones was suffering from bile duct cancer. That diagnosis was later updated to stage two pancreatic cancer for which she had surgery and underwent chemotherapy. While it delayed her career somewhat, she fought through and performed while still suffering the side effects of the chemotherapy treatment.

In September 2015, Jones was at the Toronto Film Festival where a documentary on her career and struggles with cancer, Miss Sharon Jones!, premiered. During a press conference, she revealed that her cancer had returned.

Last month, Jones was scheduled to perform at the White House but was forced to cancel when she contracted pneumonia.

In total, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings recorded five studio albums, one holiday collection and, most recently, the soundtrack to the documentary.

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