Sharon Jones — funk, soul, and R&B singer, performer, and front woman for the Dap-Kings — has died. She was 60 years old. The announcement came via her official website and her PR company, Motormouth Media, on Twitter. Before her music career, Jones served as a corrections office at Rikers Island in New York and an armored car guard; she was discovered while singing gospel in 1996. Early in her career, she was rejected by a music-industry executive who considered her to be “too dark-skinned” and told her to “lose a couple of pounds”; his rejection kept her sidelined until her breakthrough, when she was already in her 40s. Thereafter, her work with the Dap-Kings and the “Daptone sound” redefined funk and new-soul and branded her as “the female James Brown.”
Jones had been battling pancreatic cancer for some time, a fact that came to wide attention in the 2015 documentary Miss Sharon Jones! For a time, her cancer was in remission, but while promoting the film at the Toronto Film Festival in 2015, Jones told the crowd it had returned. During her treatment, Jones performed bald, a look which soon became signature. Her website’s main page reads as follows:
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following organizations:
The Lustgarten Foundation
James Brown Family Foundation
Little Kids Rock
Additional memorial details will follow soon.”
There has been a massive outpouring of grief and remembrance on social media from celebrities and entertainment-world luminaries. We will update this post as more information becomes available.