People Don’t Get What They Deserve

A slightly belated tribute to the late legend Sharon Jones. Jones passed away on November 18th, and if nobody has optioned the film rights to her life story yet, someone needs to get on it. (I want Viola Davis on this, ASAP!) Jones’ life was truly a success story that couldn’t have been better written; she was one of those rare artists whose talents aren’t rewarded until well into mid-life. She was in her mid forties when she became one of the founding artists at Daptone Records, and began recording with her band The Dap-Kings. Before that she spent years working as a guard at Rikers Island and other thankless jobs. Even her passing was a twist stranger than fiction – weakened by an ongoing battle with cancer, she suffered a stroke while watching the results of the presidential election. But, though fascinating, Jones’ incredible life is not really what her legacy is about. Her legacy is how she near-singlehandedly revived old-school soul and funk music at a time when R’N’B was more ‘ratchet and bitches’ than ‘rhythm and blues’. Neo-soul has become increasingly popular recently, with more interest in classic Motown and a wave of younger artists like Anthony Hamilton and Mayer Hawthorne adapting the style. And it was Sharon Jones who took the form out of the realm of nostalgia and pastiche; making searing authentic soul music for a new generation; reminding us that real soul is never irrelevant.


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