Turning Points: Sharon Jones
In 2002, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings was released on Daptone Records, with grainy analogue production and scorching rhythms transcending its 60s roots.
At the forefront was Sharon Jones herself, and as the vinyl sleeve made clear, ‘this sister is B-A-D!’ Now five albums into her career, she and the band keep that Stax and Motown sound thriving: Jones isn’t retro, but she most certainly is soul. With a voice that soars and sails through tenderness and triumph, every inch of the leading lady exudes energy and resilience, and after battling – and beating – pancreatic cancer, she’s back on stage with the Daptone Super Soul Revue, giving the people what they want. Picking six snapshots from the past 20 or so years, Jones spoke to us about how she became the frontwoman of classic soul revivalism.
1988-1990: Working as a Corrections Officer at Rikers Island, NY
Oh my god, I was at Rikers from ’88 to ’90.` I knew it wasn’t meant for me to be there. One night, though, I told the men in my block I was a singer, and they refused to be locked in their cells until I sang Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All! That’s one of my most memorable experiences, singing Greatest Love.
1996: Desco Records and singing with The Soul Providers
That Soul Providers thing came along because my ex-fiancé at the time was playing with them. These guys, they were doing afrobeat music, putting a different date on the 45 so people would think they were done in the late 60s. And all these guys changed their names, making up African names! And, through him, that’s how I got to meet The Soul Providers. When they needed background singers for Lee Fields, that’s how I got involved with Desco [Records]. Everything started from the afrobeats.
2001: Residency in Barcelona and the beginnings of Sharon Jones & The Dap- Kings
We had bootlegs out in like ‘99/’98, that’s when Daptone Records was getting started. We had to bootleg our own LP
Dap Dippin’ just to get started. We went through a lot to get started out. Right now, we have publicists, we got managers, we got all kind of crap! But at the beginning, we would come over to Europe and do all these shows, making like $50 a night, or $25, or whatever. But we did what we had to do.
December 2006: Providing vocals for Lou Reed’s Berlin performance at St Ann’s Warehouse, NY
Believe it or not, I have a picture on my phone now, it was taken by Hal Willner in Lou’s house on a Wednesday night, of him watching the live recording of Berlin. They were watching that movie that Wednesday, and Lou died that Sunday. Hal told me, he said ‘Sharon, Lou sat there, and we watched that movie, and he was so proud of you. Lou loved you’. So that means something to me.
January 2014: Last chemo treatment and returning to the stage
You gotta realise that New Year’s Eve was my last chemo, then January 5th I was on Jimmy Fallon with the Dap Kings. I was very weak doing those first gigs, I then ended up doing Ellen, Leno, Kimmel, Queen Latifah, CBS. For me, my physiotherapy was being on TV and being on the road. And when February came [their gig at the Beacon Theatre, NY] the band were like ‘OK, we’ve got a stool for you, if you ever get tired you can sit down, the girls can take over some songs’. But I never saw that stool, I got back up on the stage. I had to pace myself a little, but it was like I never left.
Present: Daptone Super Soul Revue
There’s 14 dates on this tour, so we still got more to go. In the grand finale of each gig, we arranged for every one of the musicians to come up on stage; Charles Bradley, everyone’s together, at the end of the night there’s 27 musicians up on stage. The song we choose to end with is Family Affair. That’s the highlight for me. We’ve got all the songs poppin’ poppin’ poppin’, keeping it moving, everything was keeping moving. It’s such a great show.
For more information on the Daptone Super Soul Revue visit daptonerecords.com