Sharon was born in Augusta, Georgia. Because of the Jim Crow laws at the time, Sharon's mother could not give birth in the hospital's main building but was instead relegated to a storage room. When her parents separated, Sharon's mother moved with the children to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. In 1960, the neighborhood was run-down and rough.
For much of her life, Sharon had sung in church choirs. She was interested in a career in music but met with resistance from an industry that considered her “too short, too fat, too black and too old.” Some industry execs even told her she should bleach her skin. But Sharon believed that, if she was going to succeed, it would be on her terms. So she took what session work she could get, sang in a wedding band, and worked as a corrections officer at Riker's Island.
Sharon's break came in 1996 when Gabriel Roth and Philip Lehman, who ran a small label and, themselves, played and recorded with Lee Fields & The Soul Providers, were looking for female backing vocalists for a record they were producing. Three women were selected, but only Sharon showed up. Roth and Lehman were on the verge of cancelling the session when Sharon said she could sing all three parts and why pay three singers when one could get the job done. So impressed were Roth and Lehman, they began recording her. Sharon's debut single, "Damn, It's Hot" was released in 1996. Sharon was 40. Sharon's Funk singles did generate some buzz among Soul enthusiasts who debated whether the records were previously unreleased tracks recorded in the 70s.
In 2000, Desco Records folded and Roth and Lehman split. Lehman and some Desco artists founded the Soul Fire label. Roth founded Dap-Tone Records. He and the musicians that went with him decided to put their own projects on hold and concentrate on being the backing band for Sharon. Thus were born the Dap Kings.
Sharon's appreciation for and loyalty to Dap Tone Records was unbreakable. In 2015, after being nominated for a Grammy, she told Billboard magazine, "A major label's gonna do what? I sing one or two songs, they give me a few million dollars which they're gonna want back, and then the next thing you know, the next record don't sell, and then they're kicking me to the curb. With us, this is our label, this is our project."
Perhaps because of her late start, Sharon was a force of nature--always touring and recording. In the last year and a half alone, she recorded two albums (one being last year's "It's A Holiday Soul Party"), did two national tours opening for Hall & Oates, cut a television commercial and "starred" in the documentary of her life and battle with cancer, "Miss Sharon Jones!" “Getting out on that stage, that’s my therapy,” she told the New York Times earlier this year. “You have to look at life the way it is. No one knows how long I have. But I have the strength now, and I want to continue.” "Miss Sharon Jones!" has met with critical praise. The one thing everyone remarks upon is Sharon's positive energy. It was something so genuine in her that it's in the music. You can't help but feel it. That kind of true soul is very rare. Sharon will be missed.