Sharon Jones Is The For-Real Deal

A couple different blogs I read pretty regularly have brought up the “legitimacy” of Amy Winehouse (most recently Souled On, and a while back Los Amigos de Duritti). Both Scholar at SO and Matt at LAdD dismiss the issue, and I tend to agree with them. The question should not be, “Does she deserve the praise she gets?” because of course the answer is yes, she does. Anyone who hears her voice and thinks she doesn’t, I’ll fight. I’ll fight you right now! But the question we should really be asking is “Would she be getting this kind of recognition, praise and publicity if she wasn’t white?” to which the answer is probably not. The other, more interesting question for those of us who call ourselves fans of music is, “What other artists are being neglected the fame and success they deserve, possibly because of the inherent racial bias in the industry and in the country in general?” I don’t know much about Sharon Jones, but I can’t see any reason why her music isn’t playing all the time in every home in the country, sharing the airwaves with Ms. Winehouse. Up until last week I’d only heard a couple songs by Jones and her backing band The Dap-Kings (one of them thanks to a mix CD made by our sometime-contributor Charlotte), but the album Naturally changed all that. Naturally is ten tracks of pure soul music goodness, the kind that they USED to make, and the kind that Winehouse could only dream of making. And in fact, The Dap-Kings show up on Winehouse’s album Back to Black, the one everyone and their mother is freaking out over right now. Point is, you shouldn’t be too concerned with an artist’s “legitimacy.” If it’s good, it’s good, period. But do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper than what’s on the cover of Rolling Stone (and SPIN in the same month!). And for those of you in the NYC area, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings will be playing in Battery Park on July 26th. I’m sure gonna do my damndest to get get there in time.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – How Do I Let a Good Man Down?

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Your Thing is a Drag

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – How Long Do I Have to Wait For You?

(Buy the album and check the site and myspace)

posted by Adam


6 responses to “Sharon Jones Is The For-Real Deal

  1. Adam—Good looks on posting some Sharon Tracks. I just put “Your Thing Is A Drag” into a mix I made for another site a few weeks back.

    Amy, Lily Allen, and Joss Stone are all outselling Sharon by the truckload, and something about that is definitely unjust. This sort of thing has baffled me for years, as I spend much of my time discovering a wealth of forgotten treasures by black artists. Yet there are millions of people in this country who think that Elvis was the king of soul. WTF?

    I guess my position (and yours ) is that I can’t dislike Amy for something that is not her fault. She can’t help that she’s white, and hating her won’t make all of the underpaid and unappreciated black soul and jazz artists any richer or more well-known.

    When I posted an Amy remix a few months ago, I intentionally included a Sharon track in the same post. Idolator linked my post that day, and hundreds of hipsters who came to snatch the Amy song downloaded Sharon’s track as well. That was my covert way of promoting Sharon’s stuff, and it would be a wonderful thing if Amy’s success prompts even .01% of her fans to dig deeper into the many riches of soul music.

  2. Scholar, thanks for commenting. Like you said, it’s not Winehouse’s fault, so we can’t condemn her for getting more notoriety than some other fantastic artists. At the same time, I think that the artists who have been so clearly influenced by under-appreciated and under-publicized people should do their part to share that influence with the public and champion their heroes. Some artists do that (I can’t think of any off the top of my head — it’s early in the morning), but Winehouse is pretty young and maybe it takes a certain degree of maturity to purposefully step out of the spotlight for a moment.

  3. Ah sweet recognition! Also, I’ve been trying to get this cd forever on lala, thanks so much for posting them!

  4. I’ll leave a little note from the female perspective. I happen to love Amy Winehouse, not because she’s OMG White! But because she can sing. Now with that said, I think Sharon Jones is the real deal but you can’t compare Amy to Sharon. One has commercial appeal and a good PR team while the other prefers the less mainstream route. I think its a testament to Sharon that the Dap Kings went on the road with Amy.

    I think the fans of music are changing their own tunes – so to speak. People want real, raw talent instead of the pop fake synth dreck that we’ve been handed the past few years. It’s just going to take the public a minute to catch on to the new soul movement that’s coming… I think Sharon will get her due. Just have to be patient…

  5. I’m a little late for this post but I have given some thought to this having seen the topic on Souled On and seen Sharon Jones on a friends website.

    I am a fan of Amy Winehouse and bought her album. I encountered Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings before Winehouse and it has taken me a while to appreciate it. I believe the reason is that while I like retro-soul music, I like it with a twist. When I first heard Sharon Jones I couldn’t tell which era she was from (I didn’t read the info first, sometimes I like to hear and then read the info). Her music sounds like a record that you pulled out of a box in your parents basement. Audiobloggers/crate diggers love that…but that by itself makes it not mainstream. And while sounding too authentic is a sad excuse let me explain. Sharon Jones’ songs have old school style lyrics and she sings it in a very strong voice…this is a plus but we are in the period of time when Rihanna is a top selling artist (weak voice, lyrics that make you laugh out loud).
    Amy Winehouse, on the other hand sings about friends smoking up all of her weed and missing the Slick Rick concert (and that coupled with her use of “fuckery” is why I bought the album…sometimes you need that). She has a nice voice but it is not overwhelming (and like I said, I bought the album so I like her voice, but it’s not strong), and since she uses the same band as Sharon Jones (although Sharons songs have the better musicianship) and adds a little hip hop feel (not to mention Jay Z and Ghostface co-signing) she is automatically the more marketable person. Not to mention that America especially is in love with white bad girls these days, her rep is ready made.

    Is it fair? No.
    So, I agree with Nicole.

    Plus, and this is a tangent, a lot of people aren’t into their music history, and so don’t know what the original music that these musicians are emulating sound like. So while Amy Winehouse sounds like something new, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings just sound out dated to them (which was probably my situation considering that I just started really expanding my music interests).

  6. Nicole and Lani, first of all thanks for stopping by. It’s nice to see some new people commenting (not that I don’t appreciate the occasional comment from Scholar and people I know – aka our contributors). I agree with both of you — Amy Winehouse’s music is definitely tailored to a younger, more mainstream audience than Sharon Jones’ is, so it makes sense that she would be more popular. It’s obviously not JUST because of the ethnicity thing, but that’s certainly a part of it (not even addressing the undercurrent of ageism too). And just to be clear, I’m not calling people who listen to Winehouse and not Jones racists or ageists. Not at all. And people ARE catching up and slowly discovering quality music (new and old) outside of what’s playing on the radio and that’s always a good thing. I do like Amy Winehouse’s music a lot (that “fuckery” line gets me every time too). I even offered to fight people who think she doesn’t deserve fame! I’m just lamenting that popular culture rewards some and not others. It’s frustrating for us fans of music when an amazing artist in unfairly neglected, whether by the industry or by the public or both.
    Oh, and Charlotte: It’s ALWAYS a pleasure to post about an artist months (sometimes years) after you originally tell me about them. Got any posts in the works?

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