Tuesday, June 15, 2010

David Browne on Sharon Jones

"After three decades of near obscurity, Jones is in demand; she and Brooklyn soul curators the Dap-Kings will release their fourth album, I Learned the Hard Way, on April 6. In recent years, she’s sung with Lou Reed in the stage version of Berlin and with Phish for their re-creation of Exile on Main St.; she duetted with Michael Bublé on Saturday Night Live and sings a funkified version of 'This Land Is Your Land' in the opening credits of Up in the Air. … Her belated acclaim is one of pop’s unlikeliest second acts, and she barely had a first. Jones was born in Georgia but grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where her mother moved her six children after leaving an abusive spouse. After graduating from Brooklyn’s Thomas Jefferson High School, Jones — resplendent in an Afro and bell-bottoms — formed a funky party band called Inner Spectrum. But she had little interest in what followed: disco, crossover pop, then rap. Defeated after her aborted eighties audition, she spent a dozen years in a wedding band. She also did a sixteen-month stint as a guard on Rikers Island, where one night inmates demanded she sing 'Greatest Love of All' before lockdown" ("Pop: Schooled in Hard Tries," New York, 4/5/10).


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