The soul singer Sharon Jones has died, aged 60. A statement was posted on the website of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, reading: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.”
Although she had been a singer for much of her life, Jones only became known later in her life. She didn’t release her first album until 1996, when she was 40, after being noticed working as a back-up singer on an album by Lee Fields. It was only in this century, though, that she started to receive serious attention, fronting Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
She released a series of albums, steeped in the sounds of classic 70s funk and soul, winning a large audience along the way. “We ain’t got no synthesisers, crap like that,” she told the Observer in 2014. “You got real horns and we steppin’. That’s how they did it back in the 60s, so we’re keeping that trend, using live instruments.” In 2014, she was nominated for a Grammy in the best R&B album category, for Give the People What They Want.
She was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2013, and underwent surgery. The diagnosis was later changed to pancreatic cancer, for which she received frurther surgery and chemotherapy.
Nevertheless, she continued working, and was the subject of a documentary, Miss Sharon Jones. When asked by the Guardian how she was able to continue, despite her illness, she replied: “Right before I get on that stage, it’s like something comes over me and the pain goes away. I guess the adrenaline just gets going and, you know, your body’s just like, ‘Well, you know: here we go!’”
She added: “I don’t want to sit home and wait for this to take over me. As long as I can get on the stage and show some energy, I’m going to get on the stage until I can’t do it any more.”
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