Retro-soul powerhouse Sharon Jones dies | Music | DW | 19.11.2016
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Music

Retro-soul powerhouse Sharon Jones dies

US soul revival singer Sharon Jones has passed away at 60, her management says. Her fight with cancer, first diagnosed in 2013, was the subject of a documentary as she continued to perform.

The stout powerhouse, who is credited as a central figure in reviving soul music, died Friday at the age of 60, just 14 years after finding international fame. Jones was 46-years-old when her debut album "Dap-Dippin' With Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings" was released in 2002. 

"We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer," read a message on her official homepage. "She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts during this difficult time."

'The female James Brown'

Sharon Lafaye Jones, the youngest of six, 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. A dynamic, show-stopping performer in her own right, Jones would later be frequently tagged as "the female James Brown." After her mainstream debut, her fame rocketed as she honed her retro-soul sound covering such American classics as Woody Guthrie's 1940 anti-anthem "This Land Is Your Land."

She was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 but vowed to fight on and her health battle was told in Barbara Kopple's documentary, "Miss Sharon Jones!" released this year. She resumed performing last year after the cancer went into remission and mounted a comeback with the defiant single "I'm Still Here" which she toured with the Dap-Kings while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. 

"You got to be brave," a visibly weakened Jones told the Associated Press news agency in July, in between road shows. "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."

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 in Black," said, "Sharon Jones had one of the most magnificent, gut-wrenching voices of anyone in recent time."

Even while suffering the effects of chemotherapy, the seemingly indefatigable Jones continued to tour. "It's therapy," she said in July. "I know I need rest and sleep. But I want to work and that is our job."

jar/jlw (AP)