Soul singer Sharon Jones tragically died at age 60 days ago, and according to her Dap-Kings‘ bandmate Gabriel Roth, she was singing till the very end.
In an interview with LA Times, Roth spoke about the band spending Jones’ last days with her. She had been fighting cancer for years, but she suffered a stroke on Nov. 8, election night. Roth immediately went to visit her in the hospital, and after Jones suffered a second stroke the next day, he called the other band members.
Once the other bandmates were with Jones in the hospital, Roth said, she began to do what she has always done best: sing. It started with humming along to guitar strums by Dap-Kings member Binky Griptite.
“It was kind of remarkable. She was just moaning at first, and then she was moaning in tune and then she started following chord changes and pretty soon she was humming “His Eye on the Sparrow” with him,” Roth said. But eventually, she would begin singing songs like “Amazing Grace,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “This Little Light Of Mine.”
“We all just kept playing and singing with her, and little by little over the next couple of days she actually started moving her mouth and started singing lyrics. She just wanted to sing these gospel songs.”
Jones kept singing, even when she couldn’t actually speak to the people around her.
“Even in that state — if you asked her if she was in pain, she couldn’t respond. She couldn’t say one word, or say somebody’s name or anything,” Roth said. “But she could find harmony notes with (backing vocalists) Saun and Starr, and sing three-part harmony and improvise these gospel moans. It was really remarkable, and it was beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“…It was very sad, but it was also very beautiful and kind of amazing to see that. I mean, she was the strongest person any of us had ever known, and she just kept singing. She didn’t want to stop singing.”
Jones, who was born in Augusta, Ga., was known for her powerful voice and her high-energy live performances. Her sixth album with the Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want, earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album, making her first honor from the Academy.
is a journalist who covers music, pop culture, film/TV, race, culture and social justice. He is an editor at Okayplayer, and his work has appeared in Complex, Billboard, Guardian, NPR, MTV, Ebony, HipHopDX, The Flint Journal-MLive, and other publications.