By: Krystle Crossman
As soon as she stepped on the stage for her church’s annual Christmas play and opened her mouth, Sharon Jones knew that God had given her the gift of song. From that moment on she worked hard to become the singer that she knew she was destined to be. She had a long and wonderful career, won Grammy awards, and became known as one of the most soulful voices in the R&B scene. Sadly it was confirmed on November 18th, 2016 that Jones had passed away at the young age of 60 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. She was surround by her family, friends, and bandmates.
Jones began working towards her legendary career in the 1970s in her home state of South Carolina. She sang at church gatherings and masses, weddings, and any other event that she could find. Unfortunately she remained undiscovered. She took up a job at Rikers Island as a security guard. Finally in 1996 she landed a break that would launch her to fame. She became a back-up singer for Lee Fields. While working this job she was discovered by Desco Records. They loved her strong and powerful voice but also loved the fact that she had the attitude of a 60s and 70s soul singer. They brought her on to record and released a few hits before the owner of Desco moved to Daptone Records. Jones followed him.
In 2000 Jones became a part of the group the Dap-Kings. Gabriel Roth, the former owner of Desco, was the bassist for the group. They released their first album together in 2002 titled Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. The album was a hit. Between 2002 and 2014 they released seven studio albums together. The album titled “Give the People What They Want” was nominated at the 2014 Grammy’s. Their music was influential and critically acclaimed.
Sadly in 2013 Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She fought, had chemotherapy and surgery, and ended up going into remission. However in 2015 the cancer returned and this time it was more serious. Jones understood that she would not have long to live and broke down. She kept her mind off of the cancer and kept her spirits up by being part of a film called “Miss Sharon Jones!”. She enjoyed working on the film and said that it helped her to get through her illness emotionally. Sharon Jones will be missed greatly.