In 2009, my dear mother — an artist, entrepreneur and music-lover — transitioned to the spirit world after battling breast cancer. I witnessed the toll that surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy took on her body and spirit, often leaving her immobile and unmotivated. In 2014, I tuned into Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic and was electrified by the powerful and distinct voice of lead singer, Sharon Jones, over the airwaves. It crossed my mind that Mom, also named Sharon, would’ve enjoyed the performance. When Sharon Jones revealed in the interview with Jason that she had completed a round of chemotherapy just two weeks prior, I was shocked, but also not surprised. Miss Jones had always defied odds and constructs.
After working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and armored car guard for many years, her music career began its trajectory in 1996 at the age of 40 in the midst of a music climate that primarily celebrated teen or twenty-something-year-old pop stars. I first learned of her when she teamed up with The Dap Kings in the early 2000s, earning a Grammy nomination. I was actually interested in becoming a funk/soul singer at the time and felt, even in my early 20s, that I was running out of time to “make it” and that no one was interested in that style of music. Sharon became my beacon of light that proved otherwise. I went on to form my own funk band, release an EP and tour the country, even ending up recording at famed Abbey Road Studios.
As I rewatch Sharon Jones’ 2014 MBE performance, she continues to be my beacon of light. Her bald head is beautiful, bold, unapologetic and ravishingly reflective. It’s like, if I were close enough, I could literally see myself in it, and from afar I do still see myself in her. She is driven, resilient, courageous, positive, present and not singing, but SANGING, because, as she simply says, “I have to.” I can’t actually say for sure what she meant when she said “I have to,” but my interpretation is that, regardless of circumstance, we just have to keep being who we are! And the way The Dap Kings provide a strong foundation of support for their centering force of a songstress is a reminder to surround yourself with the people who have your back!
Miss Jones mentioned during the interview, the importance of slowing down and listening to your body — a wonderful opportunity that many of us are being given now more than ever these days. Today, I invite you to take a moment to slow down and swim in Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’ final performance on MBE. If you’re like me, you will leave feeling more funky, fierce and fearless than you did before.