Sharon Jones (singer)

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Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones performing at Pori Jazz in 2010
Jones performing at Pori Jazz in 2010
Background information
Birth name Sharon Lafaye Jones
Also known as Lafaye Jones
Born (1956-05-04) May 4, 1956 (age 59)
North Augusta, South Carolina U.S.
Origin New York, New York U.S.
Genres Soul
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocalist
Years active 1996–present
Labels Daptone Records
Associated acts Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Sharon Lafaye Jones (born May 4, 1956) is an American soul/funk singer. She is the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a soul and funk band based out of Brooklyn, New York.[1] Jones experienced a breakthrough success relatively late in life,[2] releasing her first record when she was 40 years old.[3] In 2014, Jones was nominated for her first Grammy for Best R&B Album for Give the People What They Want.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in North Augusta, South Carolina, adjacent to Augusta, Georgia,[6] to mother Ella Mae Price Jones,[7] and father, Charlie Jones.[6] Jones' mother raised her deceased sister's four children as well as her own children. Jones is the youngest of six children: Dora, Charles, Ike, Willa, Henry and Sharon.[8] Her mother moved the family to New York at an early age. As a child, she and her brothers would often imitate the singing and dancing of James Brown.[9] Her mother happened to know James Brown as he was also from Augusta.[9]

Jones grew up in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.[1] In 1975, she graduated Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn.[10][11] She attended Brooklyn College.[6]


Early career[edit]

A regular gospel singer in church, Jones often entered talent shows backed by local funk bands in the early 1970s. Session work then continued with backing singing, 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 Bank, until receiving a mid-life career break in 1996 after she appeared on a session backing soul and deep funk legend Lee Fields.

The session was organized by Gabriel Roth and Philip Lehman, owner of the now defunct French record label Pure Records. Jones was the only one of three singers who were called into the session to show. 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 Philip Lehman on Pure circa 1996. The Soul Providers — with members of the Brooklyn, New York City, bands Antibalas and the Mighty Imperials — would later go on to form the Dap-Kings, Jones' current backing band.[12]

Lehman and Roth decided to start a new label based in Brooklyn called Desco Records, now also defunct. Soul Tequila was re-released as Gimme the Paw, which omitted "The Landlord" but kept "Switchblade". Jones however recorded and released three singles on 45 for the Desco label, "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 Eddie Bo and Bobby Williams tracks), and "You Better Think Twice" backed by "I Got the Feeling" (a James Brown cover). The 45s gained some notice among 45 soul and funk collectors, particularly because in the early days of Desco Records some collectors may have believed the 45s to be originals from the early seventies, as they were never dated. These 45s were also released on a compilation CD, the Desco Funk 45' Collection, alongside various other artists in the Desco stable. The Desco label itself had established a firm reputation among enthusiasts. Desco continued to release 45 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 45s. The Mighty Imperials album proved to be the last release on the Desco label, and due to a difference of opinions label owners Lehman and Roth parted ways in 2000. Lehman started another independent, Soul Fire Records, now also defunct, while Gabriel Roth went on to start Daptone Records with saxophonist Neal Sugarman of Sugarman 3.

Daptone Records[edit]

Launched on the back of the popularity of Desco Records, Daptone Records' first release would be a full length Sharon Jones album. A new band, the Dap-Kings, was formed from the ashes of the Soul Providers and the Mighty Imperials. Some of the musicians went on to record for Philip Lehman's Soul Fire label, while some formed the Afro-beat band the Budos Band. From the original Soul Providers, Roth (AKA 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 an album Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for which they received immediate attention and acclaim from enthusiasts, DJs and collectors. With three more albums under their belt, Naturally (2005), 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007) and I Learned the Hard Way (2010)[13] they are seen by many as the spearhead of a revivalist soul and funk movement.[14]

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 project that is the band.[15]

In 2015, Jones joined the judging panel for The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards and by doing so, helped to assist the careers of upcoming independent artists.She also served as a judge for the 13th annual awards.


Jones had a small part in the 2007 film The Great Debaters, starring Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, as Lila, a juke joint singer. Her performance of Lucille Bogan's "That's What My Baby Likes" is featured in the film, and Jones' additional covers of 1930s-era songs are included on the film's soundtrack.[16]



Jones has sometimes been called, especially early in her late renaissance of a career, the Female James Brown.[9]

Among Jones' influences are James Brown, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Thom Bell, Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, Marva Whitney and everyone from Motown. In addition, Jones also cites more recently known artists, such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Erykah Badu and Beyoncé.[19]


A documentary directed by Barbara Kopple called Miss Sharon Jones! debuted at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[20]

Personal life[edit]

For a long time, she lived with her mother in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, New York.[1]


It was announced on June 3, 2013, that Jones has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer[21] and underwent surgery, which forced her to postpone the release of the group's fifth album, Give the People What They Want.[22] The diagnosis was later changed to Stage Two pancreatic cancer, for which Jones had surgery on her liver and underwent chemotherapy.[23] For a time, Jones, from the treatment, performed bald, refusing to wear wigs.[24][25]

During the screening of her documentary at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival,[26] Jones revealed that her cancer had returned,[27] and that she would be undergoing chemo again.[28]

Selected performances[edit]




  • 2001: "Got A Thing On My Mind" b/w "Got A Thing On My Mind (Instrumental)" (Daptone DAP-1001)
  • 2002: "Make It Good To Me" b/w "Casella Walk" (Daptone DAP-1004)
  • 2002: "Got To Be The Way It Is" b/w "Got To Be The Way It Is Part 2" (Daptone DAP-1006)
  • 2002: "Pick It Up, Lay It In The Cut" b/w "Hard Eight" (Daptone DAP-1011)
  • 2004: "Genuine" b/w "Genuine Part 2" (Daptone DAP-1016)
  • 2004: "What if We All Stopped Paying Taxes" b/w "This Land Is Your Land" (Daptone DAP-1019)
  • 2005: "How Do I Let A Good Man Down?" b/w "My Man Is A Mean Man" (Daptone DAP-1024)
  • 2007: "I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In" b/w "I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Is In (Instrumental)" (Daptone DAP-1022)
  • 2007: "I'm Not Gonna Cry" b/w "Money Don't Make The Man" (Daptone DAP-1031)
  • 2008: "100 Days, 100 Nights" b/w "Settling In" (Daptone DAP-1037)
  • 2008: "How Long Do I Have To Wait For You? (Ticklah Remix)" b/w "How Long Do I Have To Dub For You?" (Daptone DAP-1040)
  • 2009: "Ain't No Chimneys In The Projects" b/w "Ain't No Chimneys In The Projects (Instrumental)" (Daptone DAP-1048)[29]
  • 2010: "Holiday Breakdown" with Binky Griptite (Daptone DAP-1048)
  • 2010: "Day Tripper" b/w "Money" (Daptone DAP-1050)
  • 2011: "When I Come Home" b/w "When I Come Home (Instrumental)" (Daptone DAP-1049)
  • 2011: "Better Things" b/w "Window Shopping" (Daptone DAP-1053)
  • 2011: "He Said I Can" b/w "It Hurts To Be Alone" (Daptone DAP-1061)


  1. ^ a b c Ryzik, Melena (23 April 2010). "Music: Playlists. Sharon Jones and Neal Sugarman. From Jameson to Fela Kuti, Preshow Rites of a Soul Band". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Dacks, David (25 March 2010). "Sharon Jones Keeps It Real". Exclaim!. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  3. ^ Kumeh, Titania (19 April 2011). "Dap Queen Sharon Jones". Mother Jones. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Nominee: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings". Grammy Award. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Peterson, Quinn (3 February 2015). "Soultress Sharon Jones Speaks on 2015 Grammy Nomination". Life + Times. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Koshkin, Brett (27 February 2014). "Soul Survivor: She's conquered cancer, now Sharon Jones is ready to reclaim the stage". River Front Times. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Rhodes, Don (6 March 2012). "Mother of blues singer dies in Augusta". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Sharon Jones' Fundraiser: The Ella Mae Jones Memorial". Crowdrise. 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d Gross, Terry (28 November 2007). "Sharon Jones Is 'Nobody's Baby'". Fresh Air (NPR). Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Browne, David (28 March 2010). "Schooled in Hard Tries: Sharon Jones is what you’d call a soul survivor.". New York. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  11. ^ "Jefferson 1974 Yearbook: Sharon Jones. Brooklyn College. Singer. Chorus, Track Team". Museum of Family History. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Schneider, Jason (24 September 2007). "Soul Survivors: How Classic Rhythm & Blues Has Become Vital Once Again". Exclaim!. Retrieved 18 October 2007. 
  13. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (23 April 2010). "Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, "I Learned the Hard Way"". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Milligan, Nick (December 2010). "Soul Sacrifice". Reverb Magazine (53). Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  15. ^ Leight, Elias (7 January 2015). "Exclusive: Sharon Jones Premieres 'Little Boys With Shiny Toys' & Talks First Grammy Nom". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  16. ^ O'Connell, Chris (10 March 2010). "SXSW: Sharon Jones: Too short, too dark, too fat?". A.V. Club. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Rohn, Jake (26 November 2013). "Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to Play Macy's Thanksgiving Parade". BET. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Reginald D Hunter's Songs of the South, Alabama and Georgia". BBC. 28 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  19. ^ Medeiros, Jotabê (16 April 2011). "Baixa e negra Demais". O Estado de S.Paulo. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  20. ^ Felperin, Leslie (11 September 2015). "‘Miss Sharon Jones!’: TIFF Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  21. ^ EW Staff (3 June 2013). "Singer Sharon Jones diagnosed with bile cancer, cancels upcoming tour and album". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "Soul singer Sharon Jones says she has cancer, postpones album". Reuters. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Rhodes, Don (9 January 2015). "Sharon Jones has liver surgery". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  24. ^ Hyman, Dan (9 January 2014). "Q. and A.: Months After Beating Cancer, Sharon Jones Is Back on the Road". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  25. ^ Schwartzberg, Lauren (2 February 2014). "Sharon Jones on Beating Cancer, and Her New Album Give the People What They Want". Vulture. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  26. ^ Anderson, John (15 September 2015). "'Miss Sharon Jones!' Wows Crowds in Toronto". Indiewire. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  27. ^ Hudson, Alex (13 September 2015). "Sharon Jones' Cancer Has Returned". Exclaim!. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  28. ^ Vain, Madison (14 September 2015). "Soul singer Sharon Jones reveals cancer returned during doc screening at TIFF". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  29. ^ Silver, Marc (23 December 2009). "Song of the Day. Sharon Jones: 'No Chimneys In The Projects". NPR. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 

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