The music world lost one of its most powerful vocalists in Sharon Jones of the Dap-Kings last Friday. While some might say she found fame late in life, for her fans, she was right on time.
Jones was born May 4, 1956 in Augusta, Ga. the youngest of six children. Her mother was a childhood friend of the late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, whose music influenced Jones and her siblings. She and her family relocated to New York and the future singer attended school at Brooklyn College. Jones honed her voice in the church and in a series of funk and soul bands in the 1970s and was a frequent face at local talent shows.
Jones worked several jobs, including a stint as a Rikers Island corrections officer among them. Her big break came in 1996 after being discovered by Gabriel Roth, the founder of Brooklyn’s Daptone Records. After trying for years to break into the music business, Daptones surrounded Jones with a backing band that could match her dynamic ability.
In 2002, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings made their official debut with the album, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Coupled with Jones’ energetic stage performances straight from James Brown’s playbook, the Dap-Kings solidified their place among the funk and soul greats.
Jones battled pancreatic cancer for years, but even in some of her weakest moments physically, she remained the ultimate performer. In 2012, the band’s sixth album, Give The People What They Want, earned Jones a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. The band released their final album, It’s A Holiday Soul Part, in 2015.
Jones was 60 years old.
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