Sharon Jones, May 4, 1956 to November 18, 2016
November 19, 2016 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Sharon Jones, the Grammy-nominated soul and funk singer With Dap-Kings, died following her "heroic battle against pancreatic cancer" at the age of 60.
Jones recorded six albums with the Dap-Kings, but it was her exhilarating live shows, which functioned as equal parts Baptist church revival, Saturday night juke joint and raucous 1970s Las Vegas revue, that showcased the singer's unparalleled energy. In venues filled with people half her age, Jones was the most dynamic person in the room, bolting onstage and commanding the crowd like her idol James Brown. It was homage without mimicry; respecting the soul and funk elders that defined the genres while displaying seemingly boundless vitality.
Sharon Jones, previously.

She was nobody's backup act (NYT, 2007) -- Mark Ronson hired the Dap-Kings to back the UK sensation Amy Winehouse, who eclipsed Daptone Records' star, Sharon Jones.
“Even what’s-his-name, Ronson,” she continued, referring to the New York D.J. Mark Ronson, who produced the bulk of “Back to Black,” Ms. Winehouse’s hit album. “They came to us to get the sound they wanted behind their music. We were just sitting here minding our own business, doing our little 45s and albums, and all of a sudden they were like, ‘I want your sound.’”

Thanks to Ms. Winehouse and singers like Joss Stone, Ryan Shaw and Marc Broussard, retro soul styles are enjoying a greater presence in mainstream pop than they have had in years. The Dap-Kings are the most obsessive and skillful revivalists of the bunch, and they are clearly grateful for the exposure they have gotten from Ms. Winehouse and Mr. Ronson, who recently hired the Dap-Kings horns to back him up as the house band at the MTV Video Music Awards.
By this point, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings had three albums: Dap-Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (2002), Naturally (2005), and 100 Days, 100 Nights (2007).

Sharon Jones and her band went on to produce three more well-regarded studio albums: I Learned The Hard Way (2010), Give The People What They Want (2013) and most recently It's A Holiday Soul Party (2015).

But that's all studio work. Sharon really shined on stage, where she performed besides Lou Reed on Sweet Jane (audio only), Michael Bublé on Baby, You've Got What It Takes (audio only), Tedeschi Trucks Band on Tell Mama, and even Phish on Suzie G.. And of course, she really rocked it with The Dap-Kings:
posted by filthy light thief (86 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
 
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I'm so thankful to have gotten to see her live. She was one of the all-time greats.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


Without a doubt, Sharon Jones was the best live performer I've ever had the privilege to see. And from all accounts she was a genuinely wonderful person too. Thank you for this great obituary post – I look forward to exploring it all.
posted by lisa g at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by Kattullus at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2016


She was in my top 3 in my list of "I don't run in this circle but I'd really like to see them" artists. Cancer is butt.

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posted by rhizome at 11:53 AM on November 19, 2016


FOR GOD'S SAKE, 2016! JUST STOP.

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Thanks for a superb set of links
posted by finisterre at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


Fuck.

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posted by parm at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by LobsterMitten at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2016


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posted by cotton dress sock at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2016


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posted by tonycpsu at 12:00 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by jadepearl at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by little mouth at 12:06 PM on November 19, 2016


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I saw her in LA at the Wiltern last year not long after her most recent treatments. She had no hair left but she was dancing and jumping up and down that stage with boundless energy. It was an amazing experience.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:06 PM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, that makes me sad. Love her music.

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posted by BibiRose at 12:11 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by eviemath at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2016


I saw her from a great distance when she played a free concert at the Brooklyn Bandshell. She was explosive.

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posted by Sokka shot first at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2016


I just discovered Sharon Jones this past year, thanks the the wonderful guy I'm dating. He's seen her a few times and we were dreaming of catching a show together someday if it was every remotely possible.

She's our cheer-up, dance-around-the-kitchen-and-smooch music.

So glad I know her music exists, so sad that now she's gone.

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posted by Grandysaur at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by fiercekitten at 12:30 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by CMcG at 12:31 PM on November 19, 2016


I loved her. I hate this.
posted by maxsparber at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by sutt at 12:34 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by From Bklyn at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2016


When we heard the news this morning, we opened our show with one of her songs as a tribute.

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posted by Kitteh at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by feistycakes at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2016


Oh damn. This fucking year gets worse.
posted by essexjan at 12:50 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by isnotchicago at 12:52 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:54 PM on November 19, 2016


I loved Sharon Jones. What a beautiful voice with gravitas. So sorry to hear this news.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by drezdn at 1:03 PM on November 19, 2016


"This Land Is Your Land" - Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Thank you, Sharon. Missing you already.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


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posted by Diagonalize at 1:14 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by mountmccabe at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2016


I saw her live too, with Prince at MSG. All the superlatives apply, and then some.

I'm just feeling numb right now.


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posted by droplet at 1:16 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is how you do an obit. Thanks.

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posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:18 PM on November 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


razza-frakin' 2016 I don't even...
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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 1:36 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by BYiro at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by cashman at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2016


A very sad occasion for a typically mind-expanding filthy light thief post. She was one of the greats.

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posted by thelonius at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


So sad, such a fabulous performer, I was lucky enough to see her a couple of times. One time she was supporting the Black Keys here in Melbourne and the crowd was so elated by Sharon and the Dap Kings, and so underwhelmed by the Keys, half the room walked out 3 songs into the BKs headline set. Bit harsh on the crowd's part, but she indisputably stole the night. Consummate performer, looking forward to these links, thank you FTL.

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posted by threecheesetrees at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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Saw her perform earlier this year. Such a wonderful performer!
posted by hopeless romantique at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2016



posted by Smart Dalek at 2:24 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by tommasz at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by Keith Talent at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2016


. A true original.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2016


We're putting together the music for my boyfriend's father's memorial service, and we realized that even if we restrict ourself to "Music he liked made by people who died this year," we're looking at a huge, amazing body of work.

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posted by ChuraChura at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


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I never saw her live, but she is one of the few artists that I can pull up on Youtube while at work, let the playlist autoplay and it's always the best.

Fuck 2016.
posted by kimberussell at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


This fucking year.

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posted by SansPoint at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2016


I got in to her music from the second album, Naturally. Specifically, Stranded in your Love. What an amazing song and super duet.

Sharon always put forth her best effort and outshone so many. I'm glad that she spent the last twenty years of her life doing something she loved.

I thought of doing a post but I'm glad I didn't. Thanks for the great links, light thief.
posted by ashbury at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by Tsuga at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2016


She was the best. I had the good fortune to see her live three times, once at the very front of the moshpit, a mere metre from her. Some of the best gigs of my life. Vale, Sharon.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:57 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by bunderful at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by allthinky at 5:39 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by dudemanlives at 5:47 PM on November 19, 2016


Saw her live once - was just incredible. Such a loss and too damn soon!
posted by leslies at 6:11 PM on November 19, 2016


First saw her on The Colbert Report in 2010

Interview
Performance of "She Ain't A Child No More" (video no longer available (buzzards!) !)

Very impressed with the entire too-brief presentation. Was looking forward to seeing them live locally in 2013 -- but the show was cancelled due to Sharon's cancer diagnosis.

Finally got to see to see them live opening for Tedeschi Trucks in 2015. Wow, did they ever deliver. Did the full R&B review routine and made it real. It's like 1968 again. Later, most members of both bands played together and Sharon Jones sang with Susan Tedeschi. An all-time memorable concert, and I've been to a few. Sharon looked great and sounded fantastic. Unbelievable energy. You could really believe she'd beat it.

A couple times the band broke it down and Sharon rapped (in the oldskool sense of the word) about cancer and put some song lyrics into a different context -- you know: 'get out the door, get out of my life, you're just a drag, who needs ya' -- addressing the cancer rather than the traditional faithless lover.

It's a damn shame she couldn't get that bastard to stay away for good.


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posted by Herodios at 6:21 PM on November 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


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posted by juv3nal at 6:25 PM on November 19, 2016


. I'm so fortunate to have seen her live. She was incredible, one of those acts that overshadow the rest of a 100-name lineup and become the thing you remember and mention first to anyone else that was there, and it is always, "oh, Sharon Jones! Yes!"

On stage, that was her, a great big yes to music, to performance, to audience and a great damn time. RIP.
posted by E. Whitehall at 6:48 PM on November 19, 2016


You know how when you plug an iPhone into a car stereo, it immediately plays the first song in your library? Every time? For the past few years my car has blasted "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects" several times a week. I know how to fix it, but I long ago decided I like it that way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:55 PM on November 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


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posted by vrakatar at 7:40 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by casarkos at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2016


She was magnificent. Fuck pancreatic cancer.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2016


Now I feel even stupider for missing her at Afropunk. And even angrier at 2016.
posted by gusandrews at 8:10 PM on November 19, 2016


There's no good place to say this, and I've resisted saying it in every other 2016 death thread, but I'm gonna say it here. "Fuck 2016" - it's an empty sentiment. It's not 2016's fault, even though 2016 has brought a few other shitty events beside celebrity deaths. There's something we've got to face, and that's the face that the youngest Boomers turned 50 two years ago, and the oldest Boomers are 70 this year.

Nora Ephron wrote, "When you cross into your 60s, your odds of dying — or of merely getting horribly sick on the way to dying — spike. Death is a sniper. It strikes people you love, people you like, people you know, it’s everywhere. You could be next. But then you turn out not to be. But then again you could be."

Many of our celebrity heroes, our beloved musicians and artists and activists and statespeople, are over 60. The Boomer generation that has reached that age was an incredible, huge effloresence of creative expression that changed the cultural world forever. Whatever we think of generational politics, we all have Boomer heroes. And death is a sniper after 60, as Ephron said, and it's picking people off. And that's sad and bad. Some targets will escape and hang around another 20 years. But, and I'm sorry to say this because it's a huge downer, it's just the beginning. The artists and great minds of this generation are now almost our most senior generation, and actuarially, they are going to be passing on at greater rates. It's not 2016. It's Age. It's Death. Our oldest enemies.

I don't say this casually. My parents are in this age group, and I want them to live as long and as comfortably as they can. But I can't ignore the fact that age is age, health risk is health risk - and ever since Clarence Clemons died, when I begin thinking of the incredible celebrities who I don't want to lose, I realize that a great, vast number of them are Boomers, and that the deaths will continue to come. Such a huge number of artists, actors, musicians, activists I grew up admiring and being influenced by are in this generation. And they are in the last decades of their lives. So, it's not 2016 we have to blame. It's our most ancient human enemy. We must prepare ourselves to meet it.

Sharon Jones, thank you.
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posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on November 19, 2016 [24 favorites]


Probably the finest live performance I've ever had the opportunity to witness. What an amazing person.

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posted by Token Meme at 9:21 PM on November 19, 2016


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posted by Mister Bijou at 1:32 AM on November 20, 2016


I knew she could sing, of course, but it was thrilling to finally see her live a few years ago and learn that she could put on a performance for the ages. So sad I won't have the chance again.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:51 AM on November 20, 2016


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posted by areaperson at 5:50 AM on November 20, 2016


I have seen her three times. Once, in a mid-sized indoor venue in Pontiac, Michigan; once, at an outdoor festival in Chicago; and a final time, just three months ago at an outdoor amphitheatre in Michigan.

She was always the same performer - energetic, engaged, happy to be there, but that club show in Pontiac was the right audience for her. She was maybe five feet from the crowd. There were no chairs so everyone had to be up from the openers to the final encore. Everyone danced. She pulled an extremely adorable young male fan, who pantomimed his worship of her as she sang to him.

The outdoor shows - well, daylight seems counter to the Dap Kings vibe. Everything about them suggested a reasonably classy and fun night on the town. Seeing her energy at 3 PM on a sidestage did not diminish her, but the audience was diminished. They sat. They flicked at their phones. At least those of us nearer the stage, though it towered above us, were there to give our appreciation for what was happening before us.

They opened for Hall and Oates, and the audience was predominantly white, middle class, and middle aged. They sat. She strove mightily to overcome the daylight and the indolence of a crowd that just wanted to hear "Maneater" and drink overpriced frozen daiquiris until that precise moment. They didn't crack until the last two songs, when finally folks got up to dance in their rows. No matter how grudgingly they stood, she was irresistible - a tiny, talented magnet.

She expended more energy in one night onstage than I do in a typical week. That energy allowed her to fit that much more life into her truncated time on this earth.

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posted by palindromic at 7:29 AM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


They opened for Hall and Oates, and the audience was predominantly white, middle class, and middle aged. They sat. She strove mightily to overcome the daylight and the indolence of a crowd that just wanted to hear "Maneater" and drink overpriced frozen daiquiris until that precise moment.

Well, to their credit, Hall and Oates are passionate R&B fans who put their fame where their mouth is.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 AM on November 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


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posted by TwoStride at 8:35 AM on November 20, 2016


I had heard her, of course. I saw the documentary on her recently at the Gene Siskel Film Center during their annual African American film fest. The Doc ended with her relapse diagnosis. I was dreading this since I saw that.

Fuck Pancreatic Cancer.

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What a great, great Soul singer. The only one who made me feel like I was listening to James Brown again.
posted by indianbadger1 at 8:45 AM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


My wife and I saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live a couple times, both in a local bar venue, which was a blast. We agreed that we wanted to be as vivacious and kick-ass in our 50s as she was then.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:13 AM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, to their credit, Hall and Oates are passionate R&B fans who put their fame where their mouth is.

It's not the band I hate; it's their fans.
posted by palindromic at 11:51 AM on November 20, 2016


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posted by dogstoevski at 12:09 PM on November 20, 2016


I found out she had passed because I got a call from the Kings Theater box office explaining I'd be getting a refund on the tickets I bought for the Dec 9 Brooklyn show. So sorry I waited this long to see her live.
posted by layceepee at 1:15 PM on November 20, 2016


Sharon Jones Had a Stroke While ‘Watching the Election Results’
"I saw her and she told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke. She was blaming Trump for the whole thing," said bandmate Gabriel Roth.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:41 PM on November 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


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Fuck Cancer. Right in its 2016
posted by DigDoug at 5:34 PM on November 20, 2016


Like the Foo Fighters, I always missed their shows.

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posted by LD Feral at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2016




Sharon Jones Had a Stroke While ‘Watching the Election Results’

so this is definitely one death we can blame on 2016
posted by palindromic at 7:58 PM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have seen Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings a number of times, every time has been fantastic! Even the time when she had laryngitis and couldn't really sing, so Binky did a few of the songs, reading the lyrics from a sheet of paper. She looked more disappointed than the audience!

I was looking through the photos my friend took from the last time I saw them, probably 4 years ago, and there are so few where she is anything other than a blur! She was putting the audience to shame despite their best efforts, even though she was a good 30 years older than the average audience member.

What Bosco Mann has done in giving the likes of Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley the chance to do what they do best, a chance previously denied them, is sterling work. I was very touched to hear that members of the Dap Kings were with her when she passed. It saddens me greatly that she had to endure the pain of seeing Trump being elected president.

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posted by asok at 3:00 AM on November 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


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posted by Bob Regular at 5:36 AM on November 21, 2016


She was a miracle and we were lucky to have had her as long as we did.

. for a role model of joy and funk.
posted by whuppy at 5:55 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by DaddyNewt at 12:13 PM on November 21, 2016


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posted by koucha at 9:12 PM on November 21, 2016


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posted by On the Corner at 4:26 AM on November 23, 2016


The Daptone Records website currently reads:
Sharon Lafaye Jones
1956 - 2016


We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away 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.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following organizations:

The Lustgarten Foundation
James Brown Family Foundation
Little Kids Rock

Additional memorial details will follow soon.
Here's the background image, with Ms. Jones in her full, bad-ass glory. The same image and message are on the news section of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings website, which opens with an announcement of two memorials for Sharon - December 14th in Brooklyn, NY, and December 17th in Augusta, GA.

And this morning, Daptone Records sent out this email:
Dear Friends,

Since Sharon’s passing last month, we have received an avalanche of love and support. Some have sent flowers. Others have put heartfelt words into cards, texts, emails and letters. Some have called us, and some have just held us in their arms. Some have given generously to charities in Sharon’s name. Others have spent their hard earned money to buy records in stores and on our website. Though we all knew that Sharon had friends and fans around the world and that this tragic news would be met with some attention, we hadn’t anticipated the scale of this outpouring.

In the past few weeks, the volume of orders from the Daptone website alone has been unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. We’ve actually had to cancel recording sessions because our little house in Bushwick has been so overly jammed with outgoing packages full of records and merchandise that you can’t walk into the studio. With a genuine sense of duty, our entire staff, Nydia, Mikey, Christiana, and even Wayne, have dropped what they were doing to help Andy pack records. I couldn't get them to leave for dinner the other night until almost nine because they kept insisting on packing one more box. On my way out today, when I tried to thank them for all the extra effort, Nydia replied that they were doing every bit of it with love. She told me that every time she puts a record in a box and sends it out to someone it gives her joy.

I continue to be in awe of the amount of love, respect, and support that I am seeing, both for Sharon and for each other. In this time of tragic loss, this is what's getting us through. Not just getting us through, but inspiring us to continue to do more. Our friend Sharon has always been at the heart of Daptone and always will be. I am so grateful to her and to all of you for putting your hearts into all of this in so many ways. As Sharon always told us, “What comes from the heart, reaches the heart.”

Love,
Gabe
I'm sad all over again.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:12 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


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