Miss Sharon Jones!
Time Out says
She’s led Brooklyn’s Dap-Kings to Grammy-nominated glory, but as we see in this complex musical profile, the soul singer has had her tough moments.
If ever a movie earned its exclamation point, Miss Sharon Jones! would be it. Defiant, boisterous and possessed of rare performative fire while fronting the Dap-Kings (her Bushwick combo of bearded classic-soul throwbacks), Jones tears a hole in the screen whenever she’s yowling out her pain.
In Barbara Kopple’s rousing documentary, that’s often: onstage, in church and behind the scenes, where Jones is used to driving hard toward artistic goals. But rather uniquely, it’s not when she’s getting chemotherapy for the pancreatic cancer that would have sapped the essence of many. This is when a stoic survivor emerges, occasionally allowing herself a private moment of pain but more often cracking wise. She watches as her locks fall out, and the sidelined band considers taking out a business loan, but you never think she won’t be back.
Kopple, maker of 1976’s still-shocking labor documentary Harlan County U.S.A., is incapable of producing a typical music doc (even if this one has the arc for it). She heads down to South Carolina, where Jones recalls a hometown in which black kids were served burgers from the back door only. Her whole life has been about beating the odds—it’s inspiring stuff.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf