"Music gives you strength."
After reading the above phrase, you probably either agreed with it wholeheartedly or scoffed to yourself at the simple absurdity of it all. I realize that you more likely did the first thing, seeing as this is a music-related article on a website about music, so if you're reading this, that probably means you're into music. But personal interests aside, I can see how, to a less musically/artistically inclined reader, this idea might sound like a nugget of wisdom in the same vein as "A juice cleanse also cleanses the soul" or "Using bacteria for deodorant is how nature intended for you to smell." But, my fervent naysaying friends that I just made up, music indeed has power, and to prove my point, allow me to introduce you to Miss Sharon Jones
. If you don't already know Jones, know that this woman is one of the biggest badasses you will ever witness onstage. In honor of Jones, as well as the release of the documentary about her life story, Miss Sharon Jones!,
here's a quick introduction to this freaking amazing human being.
Sharon Jones was born and raised in Brooklyn, and while she played around town with funk bands and worked sessions as a backup singer, she was given the usual shallow bullshit talented singers often receive in the music business (i.e. too short, too old, not pretty enough, etc.). After eventually becoming a corrections officer at Rickers Island, which holy crap, that's hardcore, she re-entered the music world in 1996, and through impressing the right people and an absurd amount of luck, she became the first artist to sign on to Daptone Records, an indie label designed to keep the vintage soul and R+B of the 1960s alive and kicking. Since 2002, Jones has been the larger-than-life frontwoman of the Dap-Kings, and thanks to their deep roots in old-fashioned soul, their explosive live performances, and a hell of a lot of hard work, Sharon Jones + the Dap-Kings have developed a fervent and dedicated fan base. The prison officer gig is already pretty freaking badass, but by the time Jones found success as a solo artist, she was already in her forties. To put it in perspective, making it in the music biz past your thirties is the equivalent of an athlete with no legs landing an NFL contract. It's an unfortunate reality, but that's how it goes... most of the time. Sharon Jones possesses a vocal talent and showmanship that few artists of any age can match, and she's made a career by giving all those superficial naysayers the finger and by staying true to herself and the music.
The new documentary, Miss Sharon Jones!,
initially hoped to cover all the things mentioned above, but it ended up capturing so much more: In 2013, Jones was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer, a highly destructive disease that brings the usual hardships associated with cancer. But if you think Jones was just going to give up, you clearly haven't been paying attention. Even with a disease that stops most people in their tracks, Jones has fought on like she always has and refuses to stop singing and playing shows. Seriously, go on her website right now, and you'll see she and the Dap-Kings are on tour as we speak. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone
, Jones was candid about her diagnosis and the bad days that have come with it, but she also said that music is one of the things that has helped her the most. "When I walk out [onstage], whatever pain is gone," she said, "You forget about everything. There is no cancer. There is no sickness."
To recap why Sharon Jones is a complete badass: She has dealt with prisoners of one of the most notorious prisons in the US, she broke into the music world at an age where most artists are seen as well over the hill, she has found a loving and committed fan base by consistently defying the odds and focusing solely on the music, and she is still playing packed shows every week in the midst of her battle with cancer. I can hardly think of anyone else with as inspiring a life story and career as Jones. She truly is the definitive example of music's ability to heal and strengthen anyone who is fighting a good fight and needs some motivation. Miss Sharon Jones!
Is definitely worth checking out if you want to know more about Jones, but if you can't make it to the theater, do what is always the best thing to do: Listen to the music.