The cruel mistress that is the year of our Lord 2016 claimed another victim last night: Sharon Jones, the soulful vocalist of the Dap-Kings. She was 60 years old.
The Grammy-nominated singer was noted for her powerful voice and explosive live performances at Dap-Kings concerts, which Rolling Stone described as "equal parts Baptist church revival, Saturday night juke joint and raucous 1970s Las Vegas revue." At 60 years old and after battling cancer into remission, Jones continued to perform, dancing on stage with surprising vigor.
Success in the music industry eluded Jones until late in life. Although she started a number of funk groups in the 1970s, she also worked a number of odd jobs, working as a Rikers Island corrections officer and armored car security guard until she joined the Dap-Kings in 1996, at age 40. They recorded their debut album, Dap Dappin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in 2002.
The band went on to record five more albums. Their 2014 release, Give the People What They Want, received a nomination for Best R&B Album at the 57th annual Grammy Awards.
Jones was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 but kept performing when she was able. "When I walk out [onstage], whatever pain is gone," Jones said. "You forget about everything. There is no cancer. There is no sickness. You're just floating, looking in their faces and hearing them scream. That's all that is to me."
The Dap-Kings released a statement on their website at the time of her passing:
We are deeply saddened to announce Sharon Jones passed away today after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time.
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