Music Interview: Sharon Jones corrects the funk

By Rachel Betts-Wilmott

Sharon Jones, the funk singer and current face of the Dap-Kings, used to work in corrections. Before she did office work, back-up vocals in a studio and way before she was fronting an excellent ensemble band she worked at Ryker’s Island, the center of New York City’s jail system. This is hard to believe considering the kind of rapport she is known for establishing with her audience.

After years of working other jobs, Jones faced the music and picked up a mic and now music has become her life. On Naturally, the new album from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, the music was made the old fashioned way, with instruments and a band. It was even recorded on analog, forsaking the style-du-jour of overly digitized recordings. Their shows are played the old fashioned way as well.

“If we go into a club and there’s only 10 people, they’re going to get the same show as if there were a 1,000 or 10,000,” laughs Jones. “Luckily we don’t face 10 person crowds anymore.”

The crowds for the band are definitely growing. Riding the crest of the funk music wave, Jones and her compatriots over at Daptone Records are in hot demand and the music-loving populace of Europe has already surrendered to the luscious sounds of the Dap-Kings. The band has hit a couple of snags at shows in the US though, such as a few drunk fellows walking out on a show. Jones hasn’t let stuff like this bother her.

“You’re not going to please everyone,” she advises. “I’m 49, I should know that by now.”

Jones has a rational head on her shoulders, a product of a rather contrasting childhood, spending half her time in New York City with her mother and the other half in Georgia with her father. This combined upbringing created a woman who can sing with the freedom of a young girl who grew up running down dirt roads and climbing trees, and the style of a New Yorker, a division which parallels her musicĀ­–creating an old-fashioned style with a fresh sound.

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