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Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones

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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

For those who thought that classic soul and funk were extinct by the late '90s, the success of Sharon Jones was surprising and welcome. An Augusta, GA native who grew up on the sounds of fellow Augustan James Brown, Jones was well into middle age when she made her debut album. Over the next decade-plus, her live shows were intense enough and long enough to put artists half her age to shame. Jones moved from Georgia to Brooklyn during childhood, studied at Brooklyn College and wound up as a prison guard at Rikers Island. Though she sang for most of her life, at church and in talent shows, she didn't manage any professional success until the mid-'90s, when the French indie label Pure Records included her on sessions for the Soul Providers and singer Lee Fields. For the label's next incarnation, Deseo Records, Jones made her solo debut with a string of 45's, which earned her a cult following among soul collectors-many of whom mistook the singles for lost '70s releases. Finally the label permutated once again into the New York-based Daptone, and the former Soul Providers members (along with Sugarmen 3 saxophonist Neal Sugarman, also the label co-owner) became Jones' backup group, the Dap-Kings. This...

For those who thought that classic soul and funk were extinct by the late '90s, the success of Sharon Jones was surprising and welcome. An Augusta, GA native who grew up on the sounds of fellow Augustan James Brown, Jones was well into middle age when she made her debut album. Over the next decade-plus, her live shows were intense enough and long enough to put artists half her age to shame. Jones moved from Georgia to Brooklyn during childhood, studied at Brooklyn College and wound up as a prison guard at Rikers Island. Though she sang for most of her life, at church and in talent shows, she didn't manage any professional success until the mid-'90s, when the French indie label Pure Records included her on sessions for the Soul Providers and singer Lee Fields. For the label's next incarnation, Deseo Records, Jones made her solo debut with a string of 45's, which earned her a cult following among soul collectors-many of whom mistook the singles for lost '70s releases. Finally the label permutated once again into the New York-based Daptone, and the former Soul Providers members (along with Sugarmen 3 saxophonist Neal Sugarman, also the label co-owner) became Jones' backup group, the Dap-Kings. This lineup released Jones' first full album, 2002's Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, also Daptone's first album. While the album's sound was proudly throwback, Jones' impassioned delivery was widely hailed as the real thing, and the songs were mainly new band originals (though she would also record a few surprising covers, including Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land"). Further albums would also make nods to the record collectors: 2010's I Learned the Hard Way was released as a boxed set of ten singles, and 2014's Give the People What They Want was one of the first albums in decades to be released in both stereo and mono. Yet it was mainly Jones' live shows, often pushing three hours, that grew her cult following; she also guested onstage with Lou Reed and Phish. The Dap-Kings remained her band but also grew their profile by backing up other artists, notably Amy Winehouse. Always humble in interviews, Jones maintained a modest lifestyle and continued living for a time with her mother in Queens. Jones was a widely-admired figure by 2013, when she announced that she was being treated for cancer (stage II pancreatic). She continued performing between treatments, at one point touring after losing her hair in chemotherapy. 2015 brought a documentary film, Barbara Kopple's "Miss Sharon Jones!," which dealt with her illness along with the inspiring aspects of her story, as well as a Christmas album, It's a Holiday Soul Party. Her later performances were a healing experience for herself and her fans, and she expressed intentions of recording a gospel album. Yet her health problems intensified in 2016; she suffered a stroke while watching the Presidential election returns on November 8-in one of her last interviews, she jokingly blamed it on the election results-and died on November 18, 2016.

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Milestones close milestones

1996:
Began first Pure Records sessions
2002:
Released first Daptone album with the Dap-Kings
2007:
Appeared in Denzel Washington film "The Great Debaters"
2015:
Starred in documentary film, "Miss Sharon Jones!"
2015:
Released final album, <i>It's a Holiday Soul Party</i>
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Education

Brooklyn College: -

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