Sharon Jones Dies At 60 After A Long Battle With Cancer. She Was Singing To The End.

MissSharonJones still

Soul singer Sharon Jones died Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 60.

Jones, who lead the Brooklyn-based band Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, released her first record at 40 and was nominated for her first Grammy at 57, proving that success can be achieved at any age. Jones and the Dap-Kings were seen as spearheading the soul/funk revival; Prince joined them onstage in Paris in 2014, and Jones has been called “the female James Brown.”


Jones underwent a public battle with pancreatic cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2013. Jones refused to stop singing as she fought her illness, and after undergoing chemotherapy, she performed bald. She was the subject of a 2015 documentary about her career and battle with cancer, Miss Sharon Jones! In the documentary, she memorably said that all her life, she had been told she was “too short, too fat, too black and too old” to be a singer. She proved them all wrong.

A badass to the end, Jones suffered a stroke while watching the election returns and blamed Donald Trump. She had another stroke the day after the election and died on November 18, 2016, in Cooperstown, New York, of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by members of the Dap-Kings and other loved ones.

The Dap-Kings’ Gabriel Roth told the Los Angeles Times:

“She told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke. She didn't seem anxious or scared or anything. She just wanted to sing, you know, and every time there was a lull in the room she would start moaning some kind of gospel song.”

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He added:

"She still couldn't talk, and couldn't answer questions, but that part of her that's singing, that part of her that made music and that loved music and that was musical just didn't want to go. It was just so strong. And, you know, it was very sad, but it was also very beautiful and kind of amazing to see that. I mean, she was the strongest person any of us had ever known, and she just kept singing. She didn't want to stop singing."

Top photo from Miss Sharon Jones!

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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at erikawsmith@bust.com.

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