Last week we heard the sad news that brilliant soul and funk singer Sharon Jones, of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, passed away at the age of 61 after battling pancreatic cancer.
Success didn’t come easy for the singer. In the 90’s she had pretty much given up trying to build a music career after being told by producers that she was “too fat, too black, too short and too old.” Turning away from the industry, Sharon took a slew of odd jobs and ended up working as a corrections officer at Riker’s Island prison in New York, which is considered one of the top ten worst prisons in America.
After a few years, and a few more jobs, Sharon got a call from the bandleader of Dap-Kings, they were looking for a back-up singer and would she be interested in auditioning. That call came in 1996, and at 40 year’s young, Sharon Jones began her impressive, two-decade long storied music career.
In the spring of 2013, on the eve of the release of their new album Give the People What They Want, Sharon was diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer. Tour dates were cancelled, the album was pushed back and Sharon entered into a fight for her life. During this most challenging time, Sharon agreed to be filmed for a documentary about her unique career trajectory and subsequent diagnosis.
Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, Miss Sharon Jones follows the dynamic front woman through her battle with cancer, and her triumphant return to the stage. “She really opened up her life to me in the most intimate and life-and-death kind of situation,” the filmmaker says. “She’s so honest. She’s not homogenized for a moment. What you see is what you get.”
The film was released in the summer of 2016, and was recently made available for download. Miss Sharon Jones is a perfect tribute to a woman who showed incredible determination and left behind an extraordinary legacy that will live on for forever. This is a must watch.
Photos via Miss Sharon Jones