Flashback to Cue’s Records circa 2007-2008, I’m walking close to the CD aisle and I spotted 100 Days, 100 Nights by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings in the newer releases section. It had an vintage album cover design and I knew that it had to be funk/soul album of some kind but at the time, I wasn’t interested since I never heard of her before. Don’t get it twisted, I’m always welcoming of new music, but in that instance, I probably had my sights on any and everything by Flying Lotus or Floyd Da Locksmif.
My friendship with DJ Skeme Richards aka Nostalgia King, has afforded me entry into a world that I knew next to nothing about. I can admit that as big of a music head that I was, I had limited knowledge of James Brown and others in from that 60s era. I was very familiar with all the mainstream hits by the Godfather of Soul (“Sex Machine”, “The Big Payback”, “Popcorn” “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”, etc) but his musicianship with in terms of the other artists that he worked with took me by surprise. I used to hit Skeme’s Hot Peas & Butta functions and he would spin a lot of rare funk and soul records (he’s the king of 45s) and it would stupefy me. WHERE DID THIS MUSIC COME FROM? WHO MADE THIS SHIT? WHO DO I FIGHT FOR HOLDING OUT ON ME?
In 2010, courtesy of Skeme (one helluva friend), I had the opportunity to meet Adrian Younge and the Black Dynamite Sound Orchestra in New York and their performance turned me on to this vintage funk with live instrumentation. And that of course, led me to the world of Miss Sharon Jones. What an incredible talent! She and the Dap Kings could bring the house down and though I never had the opportunity to see them live, Youtube made it seem like I was front row of their shows.
A few days ago, I decided to check out her documentary out on Netflix. She passed away in November 2016 after succumbing to pancreatic cancer and I had no idea that she had the disease nor did I know of her courageous battle over the years while attempting to maintain a career in music. If there’s one word that I could to sum up her story it would be impossible to do so. Yes, you can say that she was tough, determined, fearless, dedicated and a grocery list of other adjectives but it wouldn’t be enough. We see such trying moments as her dealing with life while traveling from South Carolina to New York for chemotherapy, the tears that glide down her face as she’s forced to cut her hair in preparation for said treatments, and the fate of the Dap-Kings future. This film is as human as human can get and testament that there’s still light in our darkest of hours. She was a bad (bad as in good) woman and I hope that there’s an audience of music lovers that will discover her music for years to come.