If ever there was a person who lived and breathed the very essence of soul music, it was the late singer and Augusta area native Sharon Lafaye Jones. Here are 7 things you need to know about the woman who proved that it is never too late to go after your dreams.
1. Jones discovered her voice around age 8 or 9 during a church Christmas play.
2. As a young woman, Jones shared her talent with a Sony record executive who told her that she was "too fat, too black, too short, and too old" to be a star and sent her on her way.
3. Using the executive's negativity as fuel for her fire, Jones utilized her talent by singing at weddings and providing back up vocals for other artists while working two other jobs as a correctional officer at Riker's Island and armored car guard for Wells Fargo.
4. Jones hit her lucky break in 1996 when she was the only singer who showed up at Desco Records to provide backup vocals for a Lee Fields album. She became a mainstay at Desco Records, singing behind and alongside many famous soul and funk talents and releasing her own singles through the label.
5. In her forties, Jones finally because the star she was destined to be with the release of her band's first album called "Dap-Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings." In 2014, Jones was nominated for her first Grammy for "Give the People What They Want."
6. Concerts were often sold out and Jones earned her unofficial title as "The Female James Brown" with her often barefoot, hair swinging, jump jiving, energetic performances.
7. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, Jones fought the illness with her typical tenacity - undergoing surgery, toughing out chemotherapy, and working (and even dancing) through immense physical pain. Deciding not to hide from her diagnosis, Jones opted to perform bald after chemotherapy and her short-to-nonexistent hair became her new visual trademark.
A powerhouse of talent with a relentless spirit, Jones passed away in November of 2016, leaving behind a memorable legacy that will surely inspire others for years to come. She broke through barriers and formed her own place in society as a strong, independent, resourceful woman who had something to say, and who said it - loudly and proudly. Bigger than her talent, Jones represented loving, fighting and succeeding. Thank you for sharing your beauty with the world, Miss Jones.