Tuesday 22 November 2016

Sharon Jones: In Memoriam

Back in August 2013, I was very sad to post the news that Sharon Jones had been diagnosed with cancer – a move that forced Daptone Records to halt the imminent release of the band’s sixth album, but more importantly, it was something that had friends, family and fans praying for Jones’s speedy recovery and a return to fighting fit health.

Incredibly, it only took less than six months before Daptone Records felt confident in rescheduling the release of ‘Give The People What They Want’, and it was a further five months before Sharon Jones, who Binky Griptite of The Dap-Kings (during their gig at The Roundhouse 16th May 2014) introduced  as “the woman who kicked cancer’s ass”, was once again able to grace a Camden stage.

On that night, she HAD kicked cancer's ass.  Seeing Sharon Jones walk out led to an incredibly moving and genuinely joyous performance and, other than her hair which was starting to grow back then, there was no indication of the hellacious year 2013 would have been for her – if there was, then she left it backstage because as she swaggered out to met her fever-pitch audience, she sang better than she ever has and she performed better than she – or anyone else on The Roundhouse stage – ever has too!

That was in May 2014 though.  On 18th November 2016, cancer had caught up to her and at 60 years of age, she passed away.

Born in 1956 in Augusta, Georgia, Jones only made her breakthrough into the music business in her 40s and since aligning with Daptone Records, released her debut album with The Dap-Kings in 2002. Five studio albums and a compilation followed establishing the band as leaders in the soul and funk revival.

Seeing Sharon Jones live is practically a religious experience.  The most obvious comparisons to their stage show hark back to a James Brown or Tina Turner from decades previous which I understand can come off as a lazy comparison to make, and it also potentially discredits the charisma and personality which is quintessentially Sharon Jones and quintessentially Daptone.  While it can be said that had this group been making music together 40 years ago international superstardom would await and their name would roll off the tongues of anyone praising the greats like the aforementioned Brown and Turner, I actually think they’re served perfectly to provide a performance style and aesthetic to a generation that’s never experienced it and, quite frankly, are pretty hungry for it.

We'll miss the immeasurable talent of Sharon Jones and her incredibly infectious persona that, if you had the chance to see her live, you'll remember always.

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