Sharon Jones, Fiery Soul Singer, 60, Passes From Cancer
November 21, 2016 at 5:36 AM (PT)
SHARON JONES, the incandescent soul singer who became a GRAMMY-nominated artist with her longtime backing band THE DAP KINGS late in life, died on FRIDAY (NOVEMBER 18th) of pancreatic cancer at the age of 60, in a COOPERSTOWN, NY, hospital where she was undergoing treatment
"We are deeply saddened to announce that SHARON JONES has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer," the singer's rep wrote in a statement. "She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the DAP-KINGS."
Doctors diagnosed JONES with stage two pancreatic cancer in 2013 and removed the singer's gallbladder, the head of her pancreas and 18 inches of her small intestine. She went into remission nine months later, but announced that the cancer had returned at the premiere of BARBARA KOPPLE's documentary of her life, "Miss SHARON JONES!" The cancer eventually spread to her lung, liver and lymph nodes.
JONES recorded seven albums with the DAP-KINGS, but it was her dynamic live shows, which combined a church revival, a juke joint and a glittering '70s VEGAS revue that remain her chief legacy, rivaling the shows by her admitted hometown idol, JAMES BROWN, "straddling the line between thankful humility, born out of late-in-life success, and boastful performer."
SHARON LAFAYE JONES was born MAY 4th, 1956, in AUGUSTA, GA, the youngest of six kids, discovering her love for the stage as a child. Her mother moved the family to BROOKLYN to escape an abusive husband, where JONES began singing in church with her sister WILLA.
Jones started numerous funk groups in the '70s, earning extra money by performing in wedding bands and singing gospel music.
"I wasn't what they was looking for," she told ROLLING STONE earlier this year. "They just looked at me and they didn’t like what they saw: a short, black woman."
JONES abandoned her dreams of stardom for a few years, taking various jobs that included two years as a corrections officer at RIKERS ISLAND.
In 1996, GABRIEL ROTH, current DAP-KINGS bandleader and head of now-defunct funk label DESCO RECORDS, needed a back-up singer for recording. She released "Damn It's Hot," her first as a frontwoman.
After the dissolution of DESCO, ROTH and saxophonist NEAL SUGARMAN recruited JONES and the DAP-KINGS to record their debut album "Dap Dippin' With SHARON JONES and the DAP-KINGS" on what would become DAPTONE RECORDS. They recorded in a WILLIAMSBURG basement, selling copies out of SUGARMAN's kitchen.
JONES and the DAP-KINGS went on to release a series of soul and funk albums, including 2005's "Naturally," 2007's "100 Days, 100 Nights" and 2010's "I Learned the Hard Way."
In 2012, the group began recording their sixth album, "Give The People What They Want," which garnered JONES her first GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Album. The next year, she entered a hospital in AUGUSTA, GA, and was diagnosed with cancer.
Jones continued to perform when possible, acting out her battle with the disease on-stage. "When I walk out there, whatever pain is gone," she said. "You forget about everything. There is no cancer. There is no sickness. You're just floating, looking in their faces and hearing them scream. That's all that is to me."
The group's last album, "It's A Holiday Soul Party," was released in 2015.
Jones' rep wrote in a statement that donations may be made to THE LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION, JAMES BROWN FAMILY FOUNDATION and LITTLE KIDS ROCK.