When she gets a break from being on the road, rhythm and blues legend Sharon Jones comes back to her home in the Augusta area to recharge her inner batteries.
She goes from being an amazing whirlwind of energy known to millions of YouTube, TV and concert fans worldwide to being an average person who would rather talk about fishing and country cooking than about being with Prince, Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon the week before.
According to many music sources, there is no large touring band with backup vocalists and a horn and rhythm section that comes as close to James Brown and his Soul Generals as does Jones and her band, The Dap Kings.
For the past two months, she and her band have been selling out major concert halls in the capital cities of Europe.
She intends to be back in the States for a couple of weeks (including performing with John Legend at the Hollywood Bowl on Aug. 20) before heading to Australia for a series of shows in early September.
All of this is especially amazing when you know that just over a year ago she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which kept her off the road from late last May to February.
She performed on the Delta Air Lines float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, had her last chemo treatment on New Year’s Eve, released her new album Give The People What They Want, saw The Wolf of Wall Street movie released with her version of Goldfinger on the soundtrack, released her new single Stranger To My Happiness and staged her triumphant return at the Beacon Theatre in New York.
If you’re thinking by now that Sharon Jones must be a big deal, you’ve got that right.
The Web site crystalballroompdx.com notes, “Sharon’s voice, never stronger, evokes at once the raw power of Tina Turner, the moaning soulfulness of Mavis Staples, the rhythmic swagger of James Brown and the melodic command of Aretha.”
She plans to be at the Augusta early screening of the James Brown movie Get On Up on Thursday and at the Augusta Museum of History after-screening party.
She first crossed paths with Brown in the late 1960s, when she and her father went to a nightclub in Augusta where her brother, Henry, was playing.
“I remember James had this hat on when he came in the club,” Jones recalled. “Some announcer said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, James Brown,’ and he got on that stage and he started moving fast.
“I was right by the stage, and when he went across I looked at my daddy and said, ‘Daddy, he’s floating!’ It looked like to me that his feet weren’t touching the floor.”
Nearly 40 years later, in April 2006, she saw him at a music festival in Italy. She was so excited to get a photo with him that she forgot to tell him that she also was from Augusta.
Many times in the years since, Jones has closed her concerts with Brown’s hit single It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.
“Jabo Starks, James’ drummer, saw me in Europe at a show and said, ‘Girl, watching you up there on that stage is like watching James Brown with a dress on.’ ”