Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Bring The Funk

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings came together in 1996 and were active as a band until 2016. While all the members are very musically diverse, as a band, they performed mostly funk and soul. In the 90s, they become a part of a revivalist movement recreating mid-1960s to mid-1970s style funk and soul music. 

As a band, they create a mighty impressive collection of songs and albums that beautifully represents how tight-knit this band is. “Super Soul Sister” Sharon Jones takes the helm as the front woman. Surely, when she sings, you can hear why she is referred to as the “Female James Brown”.  From her performances in the videos you can see why. She’s that talented! With the Dap-Kings beside her, magic is happening for all of them.

Sharon Jones – From A Corrections Officer to the Stage

Raised in Brooklyn, she spends her childhood summers in Augusta Georgia, where she was born. Throughout her early life it was all about singing in church. Even when she started performing in the 1970s, church and performing gospel music is very close to her heart.  Around the same time, she joins a handful of local funk bands, unfortunately, she is unable to crack into the recording industry.

Since the music industry wasn’t there for her, she starts singing in wedding bands and works odd jobs such as a corrections officer for Rikers Island Prison and an armored car guard for Wells Fargo.  With a loud voice like a train, you either got on board or you get ran over. Obviously, the band manages to keep up with this female force of nature.

The Dap Kings Bring The Dynamics of Funk To The Table

In 1996, she sings back-up on a Lee Fields session that Mann is producing. As a reference, Lee Fields is a soul singer that has worked with the likes of B.B. King, Clarence Carter and more.  Furthermore, his voice is similar to James Brown. After hearing Jones sing, she is front and center going forward. And at age of 40, she performs her first-ever recording as a front woman, “Damn It’s Hot.”  As for Bosco Mann he’s the bass player, producer and bandleader of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. As well as the co-founder of the Daptone Records label in Brooklyn. 

So, you can see things are starting to come together for everyone.  Jones and the Dap-Kings record their 2001 debut album, Dap Dippin’ With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in a Brooklyn Basement.  Afterwards, it’s followed by a series of increasingly popular albums, singles and serious touring.  

Sharon Jones – The Fighter

Their sixth record, Give the People What They Want, is nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2015 Grammys, and the group’s last album, It’s a Holiday Soul Party, is released in November 2015, almost a year to the day before Jones would pass away at age 60 from pancreatic cancer. 

Prior to her passing, she tours and performs tirelessly, and is the subject of “Miss Sharon Jones!”. An acclaimed documentary by Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple. Somehow, despite everything, the beloved and heroic soul singer finds time to complete a studio album.

Soul of a Woman, which features eleven songs recorded with her long-time co-conspirators, the Dap-Kings reveals that the emotion, dynamics, and drama of Jones’s voice remained at full power until her final days. Meanwhile, she leaves a beautiful legacy of music for future generations to embrace. And for that, we are grateful.

“Every time she took the stage, it always felt like Sharon was leaving it all out there. So maybe it was more intense for the band towards the end, knowing what was coming, but that’s the only way she knew how to sing her whole life—like it was her last day on earth.” – Bosco Mann on Sharon Jones

Other Notable Collaborations & Projects 

Six of the tracks on Amy Winehouse’s 2006 album Back to Black feature various members of the Dap-Kings, including two hits from the album, “Rehab” and “You Know I’m No Good”.  Furthermore, The Dap-Kings became the backing band for Amy Winehouse’s first U.S. tour. 

In 2007 the Dap-Kings worked with British singer Ben Westbeech to record a new version of his song “So Good Today”. Jones lends her vocals on one song “The Way We Lived”, on Wax Tailor’s second album Hope & Sorrow, released in April 2007. 

Jones contributes six period numbers by Bessie Smith and others to the soundtrack for the film The Great Debaters. As well as a featured on the Verve Records Baby Loves Jazz books/CDs and has had character books published by Penguin Books in conjunction with the series, entitled Ella the Elephant: Scats Like That.

In 2006, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings were featured in an I Love NY commercial directed by Kurt Lustgarten and set to their cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”. The band’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” appeared in a Chase Manhattan Bank commercial that same year.

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