Soul's Royalty

Soul throwback Sharon Jones learned the hard way but is seeing the fruits of her vintage sound.

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
With Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
Tuesday, May 24, 7 p.m.
Starlite Room (10030-102nd St.)
Tickets: $34.50 at Blackbyrd, Freecloud and

Sharon Jones can accurately recall the sounds of Motown — it flows through her veins now as a 55-year old powerhouse of a soul singer — and perhaps it coursed even more when she was a little girl singing at her local church in Augusta, Georgia. Quite simply, Sharon Jones is singing the dream.

“I just knew what I had was a gift, honestly. As a kid, I was singing, playing the piano — basically if you put an instrument in my hands, I could figure it out, I’ll play it,” says Jones. “I knew that was a gift. I knew I had talent. People weren’t always accepting it, but I knew one day they would because when god gives you something, can’t nobody take it away. Only you can not use and lose it and I’ve been out here using it.”

Called revivalists of the soul/funk sound, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, don’t simply revive the sounds of Motown/Stax core — their sound is as pure as the wax singles that came from the heroes of the heyday, like James Brown, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. Yet, unlike some of her soulful ancestors, mainstream acceptance wasn’t easily handed to her and the Dap-Kings.

“I was told when I was coming up that I didn’t have what was going on or that I was old fashioned — that I had to learn a new riff to keep up with people. But I’m glad that I didn’t do that,” says Jones. “People are saying we’re retro and all that, but I’m not imitating anyone — I’m singing. This is who we are. A lot of people are hearing about us now, thinking we started doing this, like, two or three years ago — they don’t realize we’ve been out here like 16 years.”

As their sounds continue to gain their rightful place for contemporary audiences, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings — with a throwback sound noted by walking guitar lines, sugary background vocals, and muscle in both the horns and in Jones’ vocals — continue to roar three full-lengths later. Visiting Edmonton
supporting their 2010 album,
I Learned the Hard Way, Jones’, who was told “you too old, you don’t look right or you ain’t got this and ain’t nobody gonna see you,” enjoys smiling last — smiling at her band’s current, hard earned success and at her chance to watch her soulful career complete a circle with an artist Jones recognizes as “one of the big events of her life.”

“I’m gonna be doing Stevie Wonder in July,” says Jones. “Yeah! He’s putting on a concert. Prince in January and now Stevie in July.”


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