Sharon Jones, Legendary Soul Singer, Dies Of Cancer; She Was 60

By Roy Narra - 20 Nov '16 17:48PM

Sharon Jones, known as the Grammy-nominated blazing soul singer who spent decades in obscurity before and vocalist with her longtime backing band the Dap-Kings, died of pancreatic cancer last Friday. She was 60.

The singer's rep said in a statement that they are deeply saddened to announce that she passed away after "a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer" and she was surrounded by her loved ones on her last time, including the Dap-Kings.

She was diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer back in 2013 and had a surgery to remove her gallbladder, the head of her pancreas, and 18 inches of her small intestine. She said she has been on remission but nine months later, she announced that it has returned.

The cancer was elevated to stage four, with tumors spreading to her lung, liver and lymph nodes. Her medical struggles was captured in candid new documentary called "Miss Sharon Jones!"

Born Sharon Lafaye Jones on May 4, 1956 in Augusta, Georgia, she was the youngest of six kids. Her mother relocated the family to Brooklyn to escape from her abusive husband.

At a very young age, she discovered her love for the stage and since her movement to Brooklyn, she began singing in church with her sister Willa.

Jones started and joined numerous funk groups back in the 1970's while performing in wedding bands and singing gospel music for extra money. Despite her talent, she had a hard time making a scene in the industry.

In the documentary, she said that most labels do find a short, black woman like her attracted. A record producer told the singer back in the 1990s that she was just "too fat, too black, too short and too old."

She quit music for a while, taking different jobs like armored car guards for Wells Fargo and a corrections officer at Rikers Island prison for two years. This job would actually start her image onstage as fierce and commanding.

In 1996, Dap-Kings bandleader Gabriel Roth worked with Jones' then-fiancé and needed a back-up singer. Jones would record songs as a back-up singer and release "Damn It's Hot," her first song as a frontwoman at the age of 40. She recorded six albums with the Dap-Kings before her death.

Jones is one of the testaments that a live, brazing energy in the concert stadium would not hinder her age in making a scene in the industry that once refused her. A place full of audience half of her age, Jones will always be remembered for putting vibrant in her performances. 

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