You’ve probably all heard about the passing of Sharon Jones already. If not, the sad news was announced yesterday on the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Facebook page:
I was lucky to see Sharon Jones twice at the Savannah Music Festival and once at Forecastle Festival in Louisville. The first Savannah performance was before her cancer, and Jones electrified the crowd with her ecstatic dancing, her dragging audience members on stage, her powerful voice. As good as that show was, the other two were even better — it seemed like cancer brought a new abandon to her performances. Stomping, scowling, laughing — Jones was simply mesmerizing to watch, but she always seemed so closely in tune with the audience. At one point in her final Savannah appearance, she encouraged audience members to fill the stage to overflowing, and then she posed for personal photos in the lobby — not many stars do that. What an inspiration.
And she was an inspiring figure for other reasons. From the obit in the NYT:
Ms. Jones was that rare music star who found fame in middle age, when she was in her 40s.
In addition to working as a correction officer at Rikers Island and an armed guard for Wells Fargo, Ms. Jones, who had grown up singing gospel in church choirs, initially dabbled in professional music as a session singer and the vocalist in a wedding band, Good N Plenty.
After meeting Gabriel Roth, the producer and songwriter also known as Bosco Mann, Ms. Jones made the leap from backup singer to main attraction. Desco Records released her debut 7-inch vinyl single, “Damn It’s Hot,” in 1996. She was 40.
A few shots from a couple years ago at Forecastle: