Sharon Jones Has Died

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Sharon Jones Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tibet House

Sharon Jones — funk, soul, and R&B singer, performer, and front woman for the Dap-Kings — has died. She was 60 years old. The announcement came via her official website and her PR company, Motormouth Media, on Twitter. Before her music career, Jones served as a corrections office at Rikers Island in New York and an armored car guard; she was discovered while singing gospel in 1996. Early in her career, she was rejected by a music-industry executive who considered her to be "too dark-skinned" and told her to "lose a couple of pounds"; his rejection kept her sidelined until her breakthrough when she was already in her 40s. Thereafter, her work with the Dap-Kings and the "Daptone sound" redefined funk and new-soul and branded her as "the female James Brown."

Jones had been battling pancreatic cancer for some time, a fact that came to wide attention in the 2015 documentary Miss Sharon Jones! For a time her cancer was in remission, but while promoting the film at the Toronto Film Festival in 2015, Jones told the crowd it had returned. During her treatment, Jones performed bald, a look which soon became signature. Her website's main page reads as follows:

"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."