Miss Sharon Jones! Official Trailer (2016)
“Opens New York July 29 | Nationwide August 2016. Two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA) shines a powerful, inspiring and entertaining spotlight on the legendary R&B queen Sharon Jones, whose wonder is a force to behold both on and off stage. Always told she was never good enough (“you’re too black, too short, too old”); Sharon finally broke-through as a renowned soul singer being hailed as a modern-day female James Brown. Now as she prepares for her most important tour, Sharon comes face-to-face with the most difficult adversity of her life: a diagnosis with cancer. Follow this tour de force over the course of an eventful year as she struggles to hold her band The Dap Kings together while battling her diagnosis with an unstoppable determination to come out triumphantly as a true soul survivor. MissSharonJones.com
Jones performing at Pori Jazz in 2010
Sharon Lafaye Jones (May 4, 1956 – November 18, 2016) was an American soul and funk singer. She was the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a soul and funk band based in Brooklyn, New York. Jones experienced breakthrough success relatively late in life, releasing her first record when she was 40 years old. In 2014, Jones was nominated for her first Grammy, in the category Best R&B Album, for Give the People What They Want.
Jones was born in Augusta, Georgia, the daughter of Ella Mae Price Jones and Charlie Jones, living in adjacent North Augusta, South Carolina. Jones was the youngest of six children; her siblings are Dora, Charles, Ike, Willa and Henry. Jones’s mother raised her deceased sister’s four children as well as her own. She moved the family to New York City when Sharon was a young child. As children, she and her brothers would often imitate the singing and dancing of James Brown. Her mother happened to know Brown, who was also from Augusta.
Jones grew up in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. In 1975, she graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn. She attended Brooklyn College.
Career – Early Career
A regular gospel singer in church, Jones often entered talent shows backed by local funk bands in the early 1970’s. Session work then continued with backing vocals, often credited to Lafaye Jones, but in the absence of any recording contract as a solo singer, she spent many years working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and as an armored car guard for Wells Fargo, until receiving a mid-life career break in 1996 after she appeared on a session backing the soul and deep funk legend Lee Fields.
The session was organized by Gabriel Roth and Philippe Lehman, then the owner of the now-defunct French record label Pure Records. Jones was the only one of three singers called to the session to show up. Having completed all the backing parts herself, Roth and Lehman were suitably impressed with her performance and recorded “Switchblade,” a solo track with Jones. This track and “The Landlord” were included on the Soul Providers’ album Soul Tequila, released by Lehman on Pure circa 1996. The Soul Providers—with members of the Brooklyn bands Antibalas and the Mighty Imperials—later formed the Dap-Kings, who became Jones’s regular backing band.
Lehman and Roth started a new label based in Brooklyn, Desco Records, now also defunct. Soul Tequila was re-released as Gimme the Paw, which omitted “The Landlord” but kept “Switchblade.” Jones recorded and released three 45-rpm singles for Desco: “Damn It’s Hot” part 1 backed by part 2, “Bump N Touch” part 1 backed by “Hook and Sling Meets the Funky Superfly” (a medley cover of tracks by Eddie Bo and Bobby Williams), and “You Better Think Twice” backed by “I Got the Feeling” (a James Brown cover). The singles gained some notice among 45 soul and funk collectors, particularly because in the early days of Desco Records some collectors may have believed them to be originals from the early seventies, as they were not dated. These singles were also released on a compilation CD, the Desco Funk 45′ Collection, with tracks by various other artists in the Desco stable. Desco had established a firm reputation among enthusiasts. Desco continued to release 45-rpm singles and also released LPs by Lee Fields, the Sugarman 3, the Daktaris and the Mighty Imperials as well as a further compilation of funk 45’s. The Mighty Imperials album was the last release on the Desco label, and Lehman and Roth parted ways in 2000. Lehman started another independent label, Soul Fire Records, now also defunct. Roth went on to start Daptone Records with the saxophonist Neal Sugarman of Sugarman 3.
Launched on the back of the popularity of Desco Records, Daptone Records’ first release was a full-length album by Sharon Jones. A new band, the Dap-Kings, was formed from the former members of the Soul Providers and the Mighty Imperials. Some of the musicians went on to record for Lehman’s Soul Fire label, while some formed the Budos Band, an Afro-beat band. From the original Soul Providers, Roth (also known as Bosco Mann) on bass, guitarist and emcee Binky Griptite, percussionist Fernando Velez, trumpet player Anda Szilagyi and organist Earl Maxton were joined by original Mighty Imperials saxophonist Leon Michels and drummer Homer Steinweiss, plus Neal Sugarman from Sugarman 3, to form The Dap-Kings.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings at the Moers Festival, 2007
In 2002, under the name Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, the group released the album Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, for which they received immediate attention and acclaim from enthusiasts, DJ’s and collectors. With three more albums under their belt, Naturally (2005), 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007) and I Learned the Hard Way (2010) they are seen by many as the spearhead of a revival of soul and funk.
In 2015, during an interview with Billboard about her Grammy nomination, Jones discussed her commitment to the Daptone Label, an independent. She cited artistic freedom and the commitment to the band.
Jones had a small part in the 2007 film The Great Debaters, starring Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, in which she played Lila, a juke joint singer. Her performance of Lucille Bogan’s “That’s What My Baby Likes” is featured in the film, and additional covers by Jones of songs from the 1930’s are included on the film’s soundtrack. In 2015, a documentary titled Miss Sharon Jones!, directed by Barbara Kopple, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Long heralded as a female James Brown, Sharon Jones, soul singer and bandleader of the Dap-Kings, has died at 60.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer,” Judy Miller Silverman, the singer’s representative, told USA TODAY in a statement. “She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.”
The big-voiced performer worked as a backup singer and session musician before forming the Dap-Kings in the early 2000s. Following debut album Dap Dippin’ With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2002, the band received acclaim for its ’60s-style soul and Jones’ electrifying live performances.