Sharon Jones has walked a difficult path to soul music stardom.
She spent years working as a prison guard while trying to break into the music industry, finally releasing her debut album in 2002 at the age of 46. She quickly earned a reputation for high-energy live shows and toured steadily until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013.
Her battle with the disease is the subject of a new documentary, “Miss Sharon Jones,” but as the documentary was released, Jones said that her cancer had returned.
Yet, she continues to perform. amNewYork spoke with Jones.
How is your health these days?
These days I’m back on chemo and fighting the fight.
What was it like getting back onstage after going through cancer treatments?
It’s a challenge and it still is a challenge. Every night it’s a challenge. But it’s worth it. Music is my life and this is what I’m here for.
You struggled for a long time to break into the music industry. Was there a moment when you realized you had made it?
To me, “making it” is about making music and being in good health. Since I’m still fighting with my health, I can’t say I’ve “made it” yet. But I’m in a state where I’m comfortable where I’m at. I’m still making progress, I’m happy making music and I think we’re making history.
What do you hope people get from your music?
What me and the Dap-Kings get is pleasure and the enjoyment of creating together. We still love playing together. And what I want for my fans is to make them dance. What I want is to make America dance again.
You opened for Prince at MSG in 2011. What was it like playing with him? Any memories you can share?
I’ll always have good memories of Prince. The most valuable thing he taught me was to know my worth, to trust in yourself, believe in what you’re doing and to not change for anyone.