Soul Star Sharon Jones Loses Cancer Battle
Music| | By Sara Wilkins
Cult soul star Sharon Jones has died at the age of 60.
The Grammy-nominated singer and leader of the Dap-Kings lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Friday at a hospital in upstate Cooperstown, New York, surrounded by her bandmates.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer,” a statement on the singer’s website reads. “She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings.”
A former guard at New York’s notorious Rikers Island prison, Jones also drove armored cars for Wells Fargo Bank before realizing her dream and releasing her first album at the age of 40.
As the singer with the Dap-Kings, she released seven albums, and she was nominated for her first Grammy in 2014 for Best R&B Album (Give the People What They Want).
Paying tribute to the late soul revival star on Friday evening, fan Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: “The fabulous Sharon Jones has passed tonight she & her band The DapKings made great music together & she sang her butt off. Condolences RIP”, and producer Nile Rodgers wrote: “#RIPSharonJones – You are incredible and mighty. Condolences to your family.”
The Roots drummer Questlove posted a photograph of Jones on Instagram and wrote: “Thank You Sharon. Thank You. #2016.”
Jones was diagnosed with stage two pancreatic cancer in 2013 and spent much of that year undergoing invasive surgery and chemotherapy to treat the disease. With her cancer in remission, she made a triumphant return to music, and her journey was documented in the film Miss Sharon Jones!, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in Canada.
The screening was bittersweet for the star, who took to the stage and revealed her cancer had returned and spread to her lung, liver, and lymph nodes.
She told the cinema crowd, “I’m gonna keep fighting. We got a long way to go… I’m going to do what I have to do. I’m going to sing… This won’t prevent me from giving the people what they want.”
She continued to perform and was slated to take the stage with the Dap-Kings as part of the South by South Lawn music event in Washington, D.C. on October 3, but she had to pull out of the gig when she fell ill, telling fans on Facebook: “I’m home in Augusta (South Carolina) recovering from pneumonia and am too sick to travel.”