Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings fifth album, out Jan. 14, is titled Give the People What They Want. It's a mission statement of sorts about Jones and company's quest to please their fans, but with her unflinching attitude about her recent surgery for cancer and subsequent chemotherapy, Jones is also giving her fans something some might not want to hear about -- some of the harsh realities of life.
In "Retreat!," the first video released with a track from the album, Jones appeared in animated form. In "Stranger to My Happiness," the latest clip, however, Jones & the Dap-Kings appear as they were in November, with the singer still recovering from chemotherapy and its side effects. "Not wearing a wig and just being bald was an easy decision for me," she said. "I've always been me, and that's not going to change now."
After completing her last chemotherapy treatment on New Year's Eve, Jones is getting back to the business of making music. A tour to support Give the People What They Want kicks Feb. 6 with a home town gig at New York's Beacon Theatre. "That's going to be the gig that I see how much I can do," she says. "February, March, and April are the tour months and I'm going to do that tour. I'm just not going to be the Sharon I was, but I'll be back by the time the summer is over. I have my faith."
Give the People What They Want, recorded in the summer of 2012, was originally set for release in August 2013 before Jones was diagnosed with bile duct cancer (which she discovered after surgery was actually a more dangerous stage 2 pancreatic cancer). For Jones, some of the songs on the album, including "Retreat!," have since taken on new meaning. "I recorded that song when I was sick, but I didn't know I was sick," she says. "So the whole purpose of the song has a different meaning now. When I was looking at the video, I was like, 'Wow. Talking about my cancer. Retreat. Get behind me. I'm overcoming it. I'm overpowering it. I beat this cancer. I'm back. Here I come.'"
The 57-year-old Jones, a one-time Rikers Island correctional officer and an armored car guard, has been making music since the mid-'90s, but it wasn't until she hooked up with the Dap-Kings in the early 2000s that she began to gain notice. Since then, Jones has seen the Dap-Kings' profile rise when they backed Amy Winehouse on parts of her breakthrough album Back to Black and accompanied her on tour, and watched fellow neo-soul act Fitz & the Tantrums update their sound and find success.
"They wanted to go mainstream," Jones says of Fitz & the Tantrums. "We can go into the '70s, '80s, and '90s, too, but I don't think that's what we're about to do. Maybe in the future, you never know ...We're going to continue to do what we do and people are gonna recognize us. We don't have to go pop. I don't want to change my music. We're just doing what we do."
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