Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Photo: Jacob Blickenstaff
At 54, this soul singer is (finally!) getting her moment in the spotlight.
The music of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings time-travels back to the heyday of classic '60s soul. "People call us retro," says Jones of their burnished, funky sound. "I'm 50-some years old—I am old-school." The eight-piece band's vintage grooves are a showcase for Jones's throaty, swooping voice, whether on their rousing cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" (a highlight of the Up in the Air soundtrack) or originals such as the scorcher "Better Things to Do," off their latest album, I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone).

One of six children raised by a single mother in New York City and Augusta, Georgia, Jones gave up dreams of a music career to work as a corrections officer and armed guard. When she was 40, her then-boyfriend recommended Jones for a recording session—a $150 job that eventually led to her current gig with the Dap-Kings. "In my 20s, nobody wanted me," Jones says of her forays into the music business in the 1970s and '80s. "Do you know what it's like to be told you're too fat, too short, too black? And once I was past 25, I was too old." Now Jones—whose fans include Michael Bublé—is making up for lost time. "God gave me a voice, a gift, and I want to share it," she says. "I'm spreading my wings before they can't fly no more."

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