Singer Sharon Jones Dies at 60

Sharon Jones - Getty - H 2016
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She passed away Friday after battling pancreatic cancer.

Singer Sharon Jones, often referred to as the "female James Brown," has died, her publicist confirmed Friday. She was 60.

The singer's official website on Friday posted the following statement: "We are deeply saddened to announce that Sharon Jones has passed away after a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded by her loved ones, including the Dap-Kings."

In lieu of flowers, it is asked donations be made to the Lustgarten Foundation, the James Brown Family Foundation and Little Kids Rock.

In 2013, the soul singer announced she had been diagnosed with stage-one bile duct cancer and underwent surgery, postponing the release of her and the Dap-Kings' last album of original material, Give the People What They Want, which was released in 2014. Her diagnosis was later changed to stage-two pancreatic cancer, for which Jones had surgery and underwent chemotherapy.

Jones was the subject of the documentary Miss Sharon Jones!, released earlier this year, which followed the singer through her battle with cancer and return to the stage. At a screening for the doc at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Jones revealed that her cancer had returned and she would be undergoing chemotherapy again.

Born in North Augusta, S.C., adjacent to Augusta, Ga., she was the youngest of six brothers and sisters, in addition to her diseased aunt's children who her mother raised. As a young child, the family moved to New York City.

Jones made a life out of music, despite not putting out her own album until the age of 40. She began singing gospel music in church and later entered talent shows in the 1970s backed by local funk bands.

Jones worked for years as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and as an armored car guard for Wells Fargo Bank until she received a break in 1996 when she was employed as a session singer backing Lee Fields. The only one of the three singers called to the session who showed up, Jones covered all the backing parts herself and impressed Gabe Roth and Philip Lehman of the now-defunct record labels Pure Records and Desco Records, who supported Jones' first solo recordings.

In 2002, Roth's new label Daptone Records launched with Sharon Jones' debut album backed by the Dap-Kings band, Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. They would go on to release six studio albums, all for Daptone. Their last release was the 2015 Christmas collection It's a Holiday Soul Party.

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