Augusta native Sharon Jones will perform at the James Brown Birthday Bash at Augusta Common on May 3 on Brown’s actual birthday, and then she turns 60 the next day.
It is a birthday she didn’t think she would see in struggling with bile duct cancer, which she thought she had beaten until it came back late last year.
Since last September when a film bio of her made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jones has talked openly and frequently about her physical battle.
The rhythm and blues singer told Billboard magazine on April 22, before her performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, “I think people should be more afraid when I stop talking about it. Because then it’s bad … But right now I just feel good.”
Jones, who is spending a few days taking a break in Augusta, resumes touring May 12 with a show in Kansas City, Kan.
Most of May is being spent opening shows for Daryl Hall and John Oates across the nation.
She and her band also are working on an album they hope to have out later this year.
During her appearance last week in New Orleans, Jones told the audience about losing her friend Prince, who died the day before.
She and her band, The Dap Kings, opened shows for Prince at Madison Square Garden in New York City and also at appearances in Paris and in Belgium.
She recalled that Prince, wearing Ugg boots, sat in the front row of the Madison Square Garden audience and watched her band’s performance.
“He jumped up, (and) ran down the (stage) stairs in his little white fluffy shoes,” she said. “He just grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here.’
“I called him my little brother. Not only did we do the show in Madison Square Garden; we did the show in Paris and in Belgium that same year. That’s how much he loved working with us.”
Journalist Cate Root, writing for The Times-Picayune newspaper, said of Jones’ performance at the New Orleans festival:
“Jones emerged at 6:01, first visible as a sparkly turquoise figure hovering at the edge of the stage. She had the audience writhing, screaming, and throwing their hands in the air. And all that was before she told her Prince story, and brought his spirit even more explicitly to our celebration.
“The greatest tribute Jones delivered to Prince was not the ecstatic and electric performance of When I Come Home in the Blues Tent, although that’s a very close second. The greatest thing about Sharon Jones is that in every performance, she is giving you the very best of Sharon Jones. She does not mimic. She exudes pure, exuberant self in every performance – perhaps her most Princely quality.”
DON RHODES WRITES THE WEEKLY RAMBLIN’ RHODES COLUMN. REACH HIM AT (706) 823-3214 OR DON.RHODES@MORRIS.COM.