The Dap-Kings frontwoman “didn’t want to stop singing” in her final days, recalls her closest collaborator.
Sharon Jones “blamed Donald Trump” for the stroke she suffered on Election Night, the late soul singer’s bandmate has said.
The Dap-Kings frontwoman died at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, NY, on November 18 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Recalling her final days, Jones’ Dap-Kings collaborator Gabriel Roth told the Los Angeles Times that she had a stroke while watching the results come in.
“She’d been fighting cancer for a few years, and there’s been all kinds of stuff coming at her. But the thing that actually got her in the last couple of weeks was, she had a stroke watching the election results,” said Roth.
“After that first stroke she couldn’t move her leg, but she could still talk. I flew out and met her up in the hospital in Cooperstown, and I saw her and she told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke. She was blaming Trump for the whole thing.”
After suffering another stroke the day after, Jones’ band and family gathered by her bedside. Though she could no longer talk or respond to questions, she “didn’t want to stop singing”, Roth recalls.
“Binky [Griptite, of the Dap-Kings] started to play the guitar and she started humming along. It was kind of remarkable. She was just moaning at first, and then she was moaning in tune and then she started following chord changes and pretty soon she was humming ‘His Eye on the Sparrow’ with him.
“We all just kept playing and singing with her, and little by little over the next couple of days she actually started moving her mouth and started singing lyrics. She just wanted to sing these gospel songs,” he said.
“That part of her that’s singing, that part of her that made music and that loved music and that was musical just didn’t want to go. It was just so strong.”
A singer from childhood in church and school, Jones found fame in her forties as the frontwoman of the Dap-Kings. The group was nominated for the Best R&B Album Grammy in 2014 for their album Give the People What They Want.
Earlier this year, a documentary about her life, Miss Sharon Jones!, received a wide theatrical release after making the festival rounds in 2015.