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Soul-Revival Singing Powerhouse Sharon Jones of retro-soul Band the Dap-Kings, Dies at 60 in New York

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FILE - Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings performs during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., June 8, 2012. VOA

Sharon Jones, the stout powerhouse who shepherded a soul revival despite not finding stardom until middle age, has died. She was 60.

Jones’ representative, Judy Miller Silverman, said Jones died Friday at a Cooperstown, New York, hospital after battling pancreatic cancer. Loved ones and members of her retro-soul band, the Dap-Kings, were among those surrounding her, Silverman said.

The story of Jones’ battle with cancer, first diagnosed in 2013, was told in Barbara Kopple’s documentary, “Miss Sharon Jones!” released earlier this year.

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[bctt tweet=”Sharon Jones has triumphantly returned to the stage in 2015 after the cancer went into remission.” username=””]

Though she triumphantly returned to the stage in 2015 after the cancer went into remission, Jones late last year announced its return. Still, Jones mounted another comeback with the defiant single “I’m Still Here” and hit the road again this summer with the Dap-Kings even while undergoing chemotherapy.

“You got to be brave,” a debilitated Jones told the Associated Press in July, in between tour stops. “I want to use the time that I have. I don’t want to spend it all laid up, wishing I had done that gig.”

Discovered in midlife

Jones’ death was immediately noted on social media and throughout the music industry.

The British producer Mark Ronson, who brought the Dap-Kings in to play backing band to Amy Winehouse on her breakthrough album, “Back to Black,” said, “Sharon Jones had one of the most magnificent, gut-wrenching voices of anyone in recent time.”

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The youngest of six children, Sharon Lafaye Jones was born May 4, 1956, in Augusta, Georgia. Her family lived in nearby North Augusta, South Carolina, across the Savannah River from the birthplace of James Brown. Jones, who would grow into a dynamic, show-stopping performer, grew up idolizing the Godfather of Soul and would later be frequently tagged as “the female James Brown.”

But for decades, such a fate was unimaginable. On “I’m Still Here,” she sings of being turned down by music executives for being “too short, too fat, too black and too old.”

After growing up in Brooklyn (her mother moved to escape an abusive husband), Jones regularly sang gospel at her church, performed for years in a wedding band and sang back-up for various session bands. To make ends meet, she worked as a corrections officer at the Rikers Island jail complex and was a bank security guard.

Dap-Kings are born

But in one recording session, she caught the attention of Gabriel Roth and Philip Lehman. The two, blown away by Jones’ fiery voice, made her the lead singer of their newly formed Dap-Kings and launched the Bushwick, Brooklyn-based label, Daptone Records, around her unlikely star power.

They debuted with 2002’s “Dap-Dippin’ With Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings,” released when Jones was 46. Three more albums followed in the ensuing decade, and two compilations. Standouts included a soulful rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and the single “100 Days, 100 Nights,” in which she belts: “100 days, 100 nights to know a man’s heart/ And a little more, before, he knows his own.”

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The sound, backed by walls of horns and tightly guided by bandleader Roth, was propelled by Jones’ grit and ferocity. For her, soul and survival went hand in hand. Her torrid performances began, like Brown’s, with a prolonged introduction from her bandmates.

Jones never disparaged the better-selling British soul revival led by Ronson and Winehouse that coincided with her rise. But she wasn’t shy about claiming to be the more genuine article.

“We’ve been there, and we’re still doin’ this,” Jones told New York magazine in 2010. “In another few years, what are they gonna be doin’?”

Six albums, Grammy nomination

Their sixth album, “Give the People What They Want” earned Jones her first Grammy nomination for best R&B album. Their last album, “It’s a Holiday Soul Party,” was released last year.

Kopple witnessed the charismatic Jones light up hospital wards while undergoing chemo.

“When people are around or there’s an audience, that gives her fuel and she forgets her pain,” the director said ahead of the release of “Miss Sharon Jones!”

Even while suffering the effects of her cancer and its treatments, the workmanlike Jones toured relentlessly.

“It’s therapy,” Jones said of performing in July. “I know I need rest and sleep. But I want to work and that is our job.” (VOA)

Next Story

Research Claims, Regular Exercise Can Boost Life Of Breast Cancer Survivors

"The main cause of mortality in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer is heart disease," said Kyuwan Lee, doctoral student at the University of Southern California (USC), noting that prescribed exercise is not considered standard care currently.

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The study found that patients who participated in a 16-week exercise programme had a significantly reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease over their sedentary counterparts. Pixabay

Exercise can likely reduce the risk of heart disease in women with breast cancer, results of a clinical trial has showed.

Breast cancer patients are exposed to a higher risk of cardiovascular complications during and after cancer treatment from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These can be exacerbated by obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

The study found that patients who participated in a 16-week exercise programme had a significantly reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease over their sedentary counterparts.

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In his next phase, he plans to study prevention of cardiovascular dysfunction in cancer patients undergoing cardio-toxic chemotherapy, which uses drugs whose side effects can cause irreversible damage to the heart muscles. Pixabay

“The main cause of mortality in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer is heart disease,” said Kyuwan Lee, doctoral student at the University of Southern California (USC), noting that prescribed exercise is not considered standard care currently.

“We hope that this study shows the importance of exercise in reducing the risk of heart disease to emphasise the need to integrate exercise into clinical practice for cancer patients,” he added.

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Breast cancer patients are exposed to a higher risk of cardiovascular complications during and after cancer treatment from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These can be exacerbated by obesity and sedentary lifestyles. VOA

For the study, published in the journal Oncology, the team conducted a randomised clinical trial that included 100 sedentary, obese women breast cancer stage I-III survivors.

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The women participated in three weekly supervised one-on-one exercise sessions for 16 weeks: 80-minute sessions of resistance and aerobic exercise for two days and 50 minutes of aerobic exercise on the third day. This intervention meets the exercise guidelines set forth by the American Cancer Society for cancer survivors.

The findings are only the beginning for Lee. In his next phase, he plans to study prevention of cardiovascular dysfunction in cancer patients undergoing cardio-toxic chemotherapy, which uses drugs whose side effects can cause irreversible damage to the heart muscles. (IANS)