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Remembering the late, great Sharon Jones

Amanda Parris
Listen to Marvin's Room, Nov 17th 2017

Marvin's Room with Amanda Parris on CBC Radio


On Nov. 18, 2016, the music world lost a bright light with the untimely death of soul singer Sharon Jones.

Her story is one that challenges the mainstream adage that fame and glory belong to the young.

Jones, like so many other soul singers before her, grew up singing in the church. She wanted to be a singer more than anything, so she entered talent shows, sang cover songs at weddings and would sometimes get gigs as a backing vocalist. But for decades, the elusive record deal remained out of her grasp. She has said in interviews that the industry wasn't interested in someone who looked like her, with one producer in the '90's declaring that she was "too fat, too black, too short and too old."

After years of supplementing her income by working as an armoured car guard and a correctional officer, Jones released her first song as a lead singer at 40 years old. The world quickly realized that the role of frontwoman was one she was born to have.

Initally dubbed "the female James Brown," Jones steadily carved out her own legacy with larger-than-life performances that captivated audiences around the world. For the next 20 years, she toured the world with her band the Dap-Kings, helping to usher in a revival movement for music that was inspired by the soul and funk music of the '60s and '70s. Jones and the Dap-Kings achieved critical acclaim, won awards and created incredible music.

Sharon Jones was diagnosed with cancer while recording her sixth album. After having the disease for several years, Jones had a stroke while watching the 2016 U.S. election results come in. She died two weeks later, at the age of 60.

For kicking down barriers, persisting against odds, and living your life largely and joyously with a constant soundtrack of soul and funk, we thank you, Sharon Jones.

Marvin's Room Playlist for Nov. 17, 2017:

  1. Diana King, "Shy Guy"
  2. Melanie Durrant feat. Kardinall Offishall, "Let Me"
  3. 112 feat. The Notorious B.I.G. and Ma$e, "Only You Bad Boy Remix"
  4. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, "You’re All I Need to Get By"
  5. Maxwell, "Lake by the Ocean"
  6. Sharon Jones, "Matter of Time"
  7. Majid Jordan, "Her"
  8. Abakos, "Money To Burn"
  9. Dionne Warwick, "Walk On By"
  10. Jessie Reyez, "Figures"
  11. Frank Ocean, "Pink and White"
  12. Drake feat. The Weeknd, "Crew Love"