Sharon Jones interview: "Retreat took on a whole other meaning"

Soul survivor Sharon Jones hits the stage after beating cancer

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Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones Photograph: Kyle Dean Reinford


Last June, soul singer Sharon Jones announced that she had cancer, and that she and the Dap-Kings would have to put on hold both the release of their new album, Give the People What They Want, and all live dates. But thanks to surgery and chemotherapy, Jones is now cancer-free, and Give dropped in January. Jones’s first full comeback show is this week at the Beacon; looks like the people are getting what they want.

Were you prepared for the outpouring of support when you announced that you were sick?
Oh, I knew that was gonna happen. You know, I have devoted fans, and each fan has been faithful to me for the last few years. I just wanted to let them know what I was going through.

Do you feel like some of the lyrics from Give the People What They Want take on new meaning now?
Well, you know what? “Retreat!” did. “Retreat!” took on a whole other meaning. What I was singing [was], you know, talking to this guy, telling him, “Step back; don’t act so crazy.” And then when you look at the [animated] video, it’s like I’m telling the sickness to retreat—the little wolves of cancer and the whatever. I got the mike, and overthrew everything, and, like, stepped on it, and stepped on the world. Said, “Hey, I’m back. I’m back.”

You haven’t played a full show since before last summer.
[Laughs] Oh, no.

Are you excited to get back to the Beacon?
I’m excited and I’m nervous all at once. You know?

Sharon Jones plays the Beacon Theater February 6.


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