Miss Sharon Jones! – A Review
“For me, music is my joy. It’s my happiness. As long as this medicine, this chemo is in my body, I didn’t have my love, my joy.” Sharon Jones
MISS SHARON JONES! Official Trailer (2016)
— Matt Wilstein (@TheMattWilstein) November 19, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Prince made an appearance at her show in Paris ❤ ❤
“They said she was too black, too short, too old. But that didn’t stop her.” Miss Sharon Jones
I chose not to put a wig on. The reason why I chose to come out with the cancer thing is because there’s somebody out there who can see that all sickness isn’t unto death. That it’s something you can’t change at that point in time, so you just got to go with it. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be ashamed of looking at yourself. Sharon Jones
On Monday evening, I headed out with one of my kids, to Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, to see the seminal and powerful documentary, Miss Sharon Jones!, made by two-time Oscar winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, on the indefatigable soul/funk singer Sharon Jones and her battle with bile-duct and pancreatic cancer. Sharon is the lead singer of the popular soul/funk group Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and is often called the female James Brown of Soul because of her sonorous voice and dynamic stage presence. The documentary moved my spirit in many ways; it was at times sad, sometimes hopeful and, in a number of scenes, I marveled at her ability to make other cancer patients at the treatment center feel special. That is the nature of this soulful woman, and I would encourage you to not be turned off by the subject matter because Barbara did a fantastic job of handling a touching subject about a life-threatening illness with delicacy and hope. To wrap up the night, after the film, we got to sit for a Q & A to chat, meet, and take photos with Miss Sharon Jones herself in person. She is a spirited, diminutive powerhouse and, despite the current challenges she’s facing with the return of the cancer, her voice remains strong and her spirit high.
The documentary film starts off with clips of Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s fast paced, energetic shows; she’s singing in that rich voice, dancing around the stage and shaking her head and braids in so many directions, I wondered how they didn’t grow wings and fly right off her head. However, that is not the main gist of this must see documentary that would move you, inspire you, and have you reflecting on both your own mortality and the resilience of the human spirit; this documentary is about Sharon Jones very brave battle with Cancer. From that upbeat opening, it moves into a slow, quiet clip where we see Sharon reeling from the news of the diagnosis: she has stage 2 Bile duct cancer, and must take all the necessary steps to prepare for chemo treatment; including having her hair shaved.
The rest of the documentary focuses on her journey to treatment/healing spaces both in upstate NY and Georgia, the intimate exchanges with her band members, and with her caregivers and loved ones; all of whom have rallied to support her through it. In spite of the painful subject, there are moments of humor, joy and even laughter, as Sharon pulls us in, reminding us of what matters most when we are going through dark times. There are raw, painful moments that brought tears to my eyes, and inspiring moments that showed her fierce spirit fighting a formidable enemy. Yet, the film creates a balance that warms the heart and gives us hope that we can face something so devastating and still find moments of light and hope to spur us on. In one of my favorite scenes, she is enjoying a pulled pork sandwich with gravy and, her reaction and delight/gratitude over such a treat, reminded me of the simple joys that make us human. We reach for our comfort foods in tough times and savor every bite as if it is our last. It is this same spirit that Sharon brings to the battle and, because of it, she is able to turn a corner and find enough inner will to get back on the road. To avoid divulging any more spoilers, I recommend you include this on your list of must see movies.
MUST SEE: Please make time to see this powerful Sharon Jones documentary when it comes to your town. It’s on limited release but hopefully will be in more theaters as time goes by. It is directed by Barbara Koppel who won two Academy Awards for : Harlan County, USA, and for American Dream Sharon is truly an inspiration on the subject of living life with a positive spirit. Tickets here!
READ: NYTimes Review: ‘Miss Sharon Jones!’: The Shimmies and Shouts of a Survivor
Washington Post: ‘Miss Sharon Jones!’ paints an inspiring portrait of a musical powerhouse
UPDATE! – I am so sad to share that Sharon lost her battle with cancer. May she Rest In Peace! ❤
We are deeply saddened to announce Sharon Jones passed away today. More details at https://t.co/MAag8tYrE3
— Sharon Jones (@sharonjones) November 19, 2016
— elizabeth obih-frank (@ElizObihFrank) November 19, 2016
“I miss my hair, but I feel like going out there with some fake braids wouldn’t be right. I want to be the most genuine performer I can be.” Sharon Jones
The Show Never Stops For Sharon Jones | HuffPost
At first, they told me it was just bile-duct cancer, but once they went in, they removed the gallbladder, the head of my pancreas, and a foot-and-a-half of my small intestine, and built me another bile duct and connected it to my stomach. It turned out to be pancreatic cancer, stage two, so, very aggressive. Sharon Jones
If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to put it in my body. Everything to me now is organic, natural, right from the farm. Sharon Jones
Until the ’90s, major labels were looking for a certain look. This Sony guy told me I was ‘too black, too fat, too short, and too old.’ Told me to go and bleach my skin. Told me to step in the background and just stay back. I had the voice, but I didn’t have the looks. Sharon Jones
Who is Sharon Jones? Sharon was born in North Augusta, South Carolina, the youngest of six children, and was an outgoing child who loved singing and dancing with her siblings, and imitating James Brown. At a young age, her mom moved the family to Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York, where she completed high school and attended college. Sharon was always drawn to music as a little girl; she sang in the choir at church and entered talent shows before settling in as a corrections officer at Rikers and working as a backup singer for local bands. She never gave up her dream, and I’m glad because we must never allow others to define us. It is so easy to cover up ourselves with outer layers while hiding the pain and daily dismissals we get from thoughtless people. Sharon is not a member of that club and she showed her true grit when she had her hair shaved without much debate. Hair means a lot to black women; it is an outer layer fraught with much angst for so many of us. By releasing hers, Sharon was cutting herself free from any traps to her healing… that scene was another poignant moment for me.
Sharon’s lucky break came when she met Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records and the bandleader of the Dap Kings. The connection led to her joining the band as lead singer, finally, deciding to pursue that dream full-time. She soon became a well regarded, energetic entertainer; her shows with the funk and soul band, The Dap-Kings, were packed and she gave it her all. While some might have assumed that the Cancer, Chemo treatments, and the battle to live would derail her from her dream, she has fought it bravely and presses on. Once she completed the initial Chemo treatments, she started back on tour with the band and was thrilled when they were nominated for a Grammy in 2014. However, the Cancer has since returned and she remains in a fierce battle for her life. As she faces a second round of treatments, she is determined to not allow it to deter her from a lifetime of preparation and performance as a singer. My heart and prayers go out to her as we all need to wish her healing love and a remission of this disease.
During the Q & A, Sharon shared some of her memories of childhood including an experience of prejudicial treatment by a store owner back in South Carolina. She spoke honestly about her health and why she is reaching out to encourage others to be brave. She spoke about her creative work and how it inspires her to press on… it was a heartwarming Q&A, and we all felt connected to her in that cinema. Do come back later for some clips I recorded of the conversation. She is funny, direct and had us laughing, weeping, and celebrating her courage … Who was healing whom? Sharon continues to battle that insidious disease and remains positive and determined to give her best at all times. Afterwards, we gathered downstairs for a photo opportunity and she posed for a few with me and my daughter (see far left bottom shot above). Meeting her was very special; I feel reinvigorated and determined to get back on my feet and get on with living which is what she is doing so gracefully.
MUST SEE: Please make time to see this poignant Sharon Jones documentary, directed by Barbara Koppel , when it comes to your town. Sharon is truly an inspiration on the subject of living life fully with dignity and grace; even while battling health challenges. Tickets here!
READ: Miss Sharon Jones! Movie Review (2016) | Roger Ebert
AVClub: Miss Sharon Jones! pays tribute to the mighty soul of a soul singer
Miss Sharon Jones!
Directed by: Barbara Kopple
Produced by: David Cassidy
Music by: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Cinematography: Gary Griffin
Edited by: Anne Fratto and Jean Tsien
Production company: Cabin Creek Films
Distributed by: Starz Digital Media
Release dates: 11 September 2015 – Toronto International Film Festival
Running time: 93 minutes
IMPORTANT NOTE: This post is first and foremost about Sharon Jones brave battle with cancer and the powerful documentary about her battle. It is not about a show/concert or a music event and your sensitivity would be appreciated when you leave a comment. Next, this post is ONLY PARTLY inspired by this week’s Discover Challenge: For this week’s challenge, 0n Outer Layers, tell us (in the medium or format of your choice, whether visual, textual, or other) about how your personal style reflects or modifies who you are… a memory you hold dear … I added how Sharon bravely shaved her hair which was important to her because she recognized it is only an outer layer. That’s the only connection I make. The post is primarily about her brave battle. Thank you!
Have an inspired week ahead!
Positive Motivation Tip: Grab life with both hands and live it fully. Our ups/downs can be the light that ignites inspiration in ourselves and others.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos – Photos of Sharon Jones w/ the Dap-Kings at the Beacon Theater in New York, CREDITS: via (Jacob Blickenstaff/Abramorama/Starz Digital) AND Other photos of Sharon Jones, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Dap Kings, CREDITS: via Wikipedia, and my Personal Collection