Brooklyn, NY soul singer extraordinaire Sharon Jones lost her lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. According to management, Jones was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings. Jones was 60. She died at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, where she underwent chemotherapy treatment since doctors diagnosed her with stage two pancreatic cancer in June 2013.
A gospel singer in her youth, she worked as a session singer in the ’70s often under the moniker Lafaye Jones. She spent several years working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and as an armored car guard for Wells Fargo Bank, until receiving a mid-life career break in 1996 after she appeared on a session backing the soul and deep funk legend Lee Fields. In 2002, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings released Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2002. The full-length the first full-length release from Daptone Records. Blessed with a powerful, soulful voice and onstage charisma that charmed crowds, Jones remained with Daptone Records until the end of her career, citing the label’s artistic freedom.
Jones earned her first Grammy nomination in 2014 for best R&B Album for Give the People What They Want. She was also the subject of the documentary Miss Sharon Jones! directed by Barbara Kopple.
I had the pleasure of watching Jones perform with her band at SXSW in 2007, where she sang songs off her acclaimed album 100 Days, 100 Nights. Despite an injured ankle, she delivered a striking performance — in heels, no less — that I will never forget. Rest in peace, Sharon.