Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S




Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones

I’ve known Sharon for quite a few years now, but even so, with such a tight and hectic tour schedule with her band ‘Sharon Jones And The Dapkings’) I’d heard that she was exhausted and, frankly, a little tired of being interviewed.

After a friendly reacquaintence, after the soundcheck of the first of three sell-out nights at London’s Jazz CafÈ we went off the dressing-room to discuss the latest album ‘100 Days’ and she was on great form – firing off enthusiastic answers like it was her first interview.

SB: Just to quickly clarify things: You’re from Augusta originally and moved to the Bronx , you did sessions on many 70’s Disco records.

SJ: Nothing major. Later I did vocals for an album by Big Daddy Kane and loads of other records that I didn’t get credited on.

SB: How did you get involved with the Desco/Daptone record labels?

SJ: My ex was one of the horn players in The Daktaris (an Afro Funk band on Desco) and they wanted Lee Fields to sing on a 45 called ‘Switchblade’ which I did the backing vocals on. I did all his other tracks too. If you hear a womans voice, that’s me. I could improvise too, which is how I came up with the lyric on ‘Damn It’s Hot’ just like that – because it was hot in the studio. Gabe writes all the songs but I breath the life in to them. He knows what he’s doing. I just pray we stay together, he puts so much into it. We all put so much into it.

SB: How long has the album been out now?

SJ: Eight months.

SB: Have you been touring it constantly?

SJ: Yes. It started with the Harlem Apollo and then straight to Australia and everywhere. It’s tough. Gig, gig, gig. It’s getting good. I suppose although he’s not responsible for the scene it helps that a young crowd are listening to Mark Ronson (The Dapkings are on his and Amy Winehouses albums) and got in to a more funky sound through him? Yes, well they say we’re underground but we’re not. We’re just not mainstream. Our music is accessible.

SB: Your music has gone way beyond the Funk scene though hasn’t it. I mean, if I can use the US as an example: you have artists like Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and (the UK’s) James Hunter singing early 60’s Soul and R&B to great success – gigging every night playing to people that just love good music of whatever style.

SJ: Yes, we play lot’s of festivals – all kinds. We’re doing one in Europe soon with Chaka Khan and Angie Stone. I hope I meet Chaka.

SB: She should be honoured to meet you!

SJ: I went to see Mavis Staples in Australia and she said, “I’d like to welcome Sharon Jones” and she got me up on stage. Solomon Burke did that to me a few years ago too, in Germany. We sang Nat King Cole’s ‘Wonderful World’. I’ve sang with Booker T And The M.G’s, Lou Reed, Ben E King... It’s great that all these people that you admire, admire you… Denzil Washington, Oprah Winfrey know me... I’m in a movie with six songs on the soundtrack too, on Atlantic Records. It’s hard to do other stuff though because we tour so much.

SB: This album is a lot more Soul and R&B. Was that a conscious decision?

SJ: Yes. Gabe Roth (band-leader and ‘Daptone’ label owner) said he wanted it to be more like a 60’s Stax or Motown album. ‘100 Days’ nearly never made the album...

SB: What? That track is unbelievable!

SJ: They couldn’t decide whether to play it fast or slow and it ended up as both.

SB: When are you going to record the next album?

SJ: When the touring slows down. We’ve got loads of songs already. We’ll be doing a bit of Gospel stuff, ballads, all kinds of things.

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter