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Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way

Steve LaBate, Paste, 6 April 2010

SHARON JONES WAS BRIMMING with promise as a kid in church choirs in the 1960s, as she bounced back and forth between her birth city of Augusta, Ga. and her mother in Brooklyn. She also had a foot firmly planted in the world of secular music, spending countless hours imitating the songs and dances of fellow Augusta native James Brown. As a teen in 1970s New York, Jones flirted with fame, making many uncredited appearances as a backup singer on gospel, soul, blues and disco recordings. But when the neon-flash '80s hit, her style was suddenly considered outdated. To support herself, she worked as a prison guard at Rikers Island (which surely came in handy later while shaking down sketchy promoters who dared hold out on her at the end of the night).

Total word count of piece: 1006


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