Sharon Jones, 60, powerful voice of soul with the Dap-Kings

Ms. Jones performed throughout this summer while undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via aSSOCIATED pRESS/file 2010
Ms. Jones performed throughout this summer while undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

NEW YORK — Sharon Jones, the soul singer and powerful voice of the band the Dap-Kings, died Friday of pancreatic cancer that had been in remission but returned last year. She was 60.

Ms. Jones’s death was confirmed by Judy Miller Silverman, her publicist. She said Ms. Jones was surrounded by members of the Dap-Kings and other loved ones when she died.

She continued performing throughout the summer, even while undergoing chemotherapy that she said caused neuropathy in her feet and legs and restricted her movements onstage. But Ms. Jones remained undeterred.


“Getting out on that stage, that’s my therapy,” Ms. Jones said in a New York Times interview published in July. “You have to look at life the way it is. No one knows how long I have. But I have the strength now, and I want to continue.”

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The summer tour promoted “I’m Still Here,” a single with the Dap-Kings that detailed Ms. Jones’s birth in a brutally segregated South, a childhood in the burned-out Bronx, and a career hampered by record executives who considered her “too short, too fat, too black, and too old.”

Ms. Jones was that rare music star who found fame in middle age, when she was in her 40s. With that late start, she recorded and performed at an unrelenting pace, and in the last year and a half of her life she recorded two albums, opened two national tours for Hall & Oates, was featured in a television commercial for Lincoln (performing the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider”), and starred in “Miss Sharon Jones!,” a documentary about her life.

The film traced her life from the diagnosis of Stage 2 pancreatic cancer in 2013 through her triumphant return to the stage in 2015.

“Sharon is always up,” the film’s director, Barbara Kopple, said at the time of its release. “Even when she’s in the room where people are getting chemo, she’s the sunshine.”


Ms. Jones publicly announced the return of her cancer in September 2015 at the film’s first showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Doctors, she said, had found a spot on her liver. “I didn’t want people to come up and congratulate me on beating cancer when it’s back,” she said.

That recurrence was treated with radiation. But in May, while she was on tour, cancer cells were found in her stomach, lymph nodes, and lungs. Chemotherapy was required, although Ms. Jones changed the regimen to give her greater freedom of movement.

“I need to dance onstage,” she said. “I don’t want something that makes me bedridden. I want to live my life to the fullest.”