It was celebrated as a feminine counterpart to James Brown: No one gave more angry and more tender concerts than Sharon Jones. Now the singer sank at the age of 60 years of cancer.
She was the greatest. And when she came to the city to give one of her salutary, hypnotic, occasionally three-hour concerts, you naturally tried to fight her way into the front row. A not entirely harmless business. Because often Sharon Jones, when she had warmly sung and danced, picked up men from the front ranks, who together with her had to make the basins boogie and boogaloo rhythms. She was not vocal in her men’s choice.
As a spectator, you were always quite amazed that the dancing insert looked quite okay with the bumpy guy, who had previously stood next to one. One of the many magical tricks with which the so-called “Soulsängerin” made her appearances into memorable experiences with her sensational accompanying band The Dap-Kings. The hall was sweating, his eyes were lit, this tenderness, almost seemingly tenacious, blowing from the stage.
A tenderness that was anything but self-evident. And sometimes hiding behind a clenched fist. Because the songs that Sharon Jones sang on the stage were almost always the opposite of love. It was about exploitation and exclusion, alienation and violence; The vocabulary was often warlike. But Jones, like most others, had the perfect dialectics of the soul: to sing about miserable things and to sway the world with tenderness. She had like the big women in her profession, from Aretha Franklin to Tina Turner , Amy Winehouse.
Exploitation and exclusion, alienation and violence: All this had been experienced by the singer in her own person, in her own body. Sharon Lafaye Jones was born as one of six children in bitter poverty in Augusta, Georgia, in 1956. Violence against blacks was as much a part of everyday life as violence against women. Her mother fled to the Bronx with her sons and daughters at the beginning of the sixties to New York, where the law of the fittest prevailed.
Later, Sharon Jones worked as a guardian in the prison of Rikers Island, New York, and as a guardian of the US bank Wells Fargo. As a film star, she could endure the whims of Lou Reed. Cocaine and private persecutions brought her to the brink of despair. But Jones could not be put to the test: with the freshly formed Dap-Kings she played from the end of the nineties for wedding companies and student connections.
“Too small, too fat, too black, too old”
A contract with a big record company seemed unattainable for them for a long time. It simply did not fit into the marketing departments’ range, or as she herself sarcastically summarized her supposed weaknesses: “Too small, too fat, too black, too old.”
At the age of 40 Jones got her first record contract, followed by tours, tours, tours. Meanwhile, she had to lend her dap-kings, who had developed into the best retro-soul-group in the world over an infinite number of live performances, as a backing band to stars like Bob Dylan or Amy Winehouse. Winehouse recorded with the Dap-Kings their strongest songs, to finally become a superstar.
An advertising effect, which Sharon Jones gladly took with him. Over the nuller years she developed into one of the most sought-after retro soul singers, which was present in television shows as well as at the big summer festivals. The business was humming, and the respect finally came. Often she was announced as a female counterpart to James Brown.
2013 then the terror message. Sharon Jones had cancer, she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Shortly afterwards she stood on the stage, her hair stubbled. The cancer seemed to be just another dung-man, who was to be crushed, to sing down, and to kill.
As she told the New York Times in an interview this July, she understood her concerts as a kind of therapy. Then she had just released a new single, where she transformed the whole horror and all the beauty of her life into three minutes of soul. Title: “I’m Still Here”.
As the “Rolling Stone” and other US media reported on Saturday, Sharon Jones, the last great soul priestess, has already succumbed to cancer on Friday at the age of 60 years. Her family and her dap-kings were with her. There will be no one to replace them on the concert stage.