September 26, 2007

MRS. JONES GOT A THING GOIN' ON:

The 35-Year Plan for Soul Superstardom: Sharon Jones, Darondo, and other soul sensations hit it big after decades on the outskirts (Indrani Sen, September 25th, 2007, Village Voice)

Sharon Jones always knew she was put on this earth to sing soul music. But she soon realized she'd never be a star. "In the '80s, they told me I needed to bleach my skin," she recalls. "They told me I was too dark-skinned, too fat, too short. And once I passed twentysomething, I was too old."

Still, Jones, who was born in Augusta, Georgia, and now lives in Far Rockaway, sang where she could—her church choir, talent shows, wedding gigs. She picked up session work here and there and worked as a correction officer on Rikers Island. " 'God gave me a gift, and one day people are going to accept me for that gift'—that's what I put in my head," Jones recalls. "And it took another 20-something years to happen."

Now, at the age of 51, Jones has finally found her place: up onstage in a shimmery dress, singing her heart out. A tiny black woman with a mischievous sense of humor and a deep, expressive voice, Jones has toured the world with her band, the Dap-Kings, delivering their pure pre-Parliament funk to eager crowds of sweating, dancing fans. "I don't feel embarrassed because I can't dance like Beyoncé or what's-her-name, Shakira," Jones says, giggling and shimmying in her seat at Daptone Records, the Brooklyn soul label that has nurtured her career. "I'm just so glad I can sing something and get on that stage and jump around."

Jones has toured with Lou Reed, and appears in the upcoming Denzel Washington movie The Great Debaters. British soul ingénue Amy Winehouse borrowed the Dap-Kings to record her breakthrough, Back to Black. And in October, Daptone is releasing Sharon's third album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, a collection of gospel-tinged soul laments that she'll celebrate with a date at the Apollo Theater.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 26, 2007 5:56 PM
Comments for this post are closed.