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Sharon Jones Gets Her Groove Back: Behind-the-Scenes Photos

The soul singer returns to the stage after a grueling year fighting cancer

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

Twenty-thirteen was a terrible year for Sharon Jones. The 57-year-old soul singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just after finishing up her new album, Give the People What They Want. She postponed the LP's release, canceled all her tour dates with the Dap-Kings and underwent grueling treatment. Now the cancer is gone, the album arrived in January and Jones is back on the road, performing a string of shows in American theaters. She let Rolling Stone tag along for a behind-the-scenes look at her gig at New York's Beacon Theatre.

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Sharon Jones on Beating Cancer and Career Advice From Inmates

 

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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Gabriel Roth, band leader of the Dap-Kings and co-founder of Daptone Records, runs the band through song arrangements while Sharon gets her vocals tuned in.

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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In the quiet of her hotel room, Jones picks the dress she will wear onstage. Only two weeks ago, Sharon received biopsy results that showed she was cancer-free, although she had a second scare when scar tissue showed up in a scan. With the blessing of her oncologist, she is now beginning a seven-month tour. 

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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Jones' regular dressing room ritual: Sharon shares a prayer of hope and gratitude with her backup singers and close companions, Starr Duncan and Saundra Williams. "Even though we've done this a thousand times," says Saundra, "it feels new again."

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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The Dap-Kings: all hands in. The band members say they had a tough time when Jones' album and tour were delayed. "People think that because you are in a well known band that you're doing alright," says Binky Griptite. "I wasn't homeless, but I had to sleep on friend's couches towards the end."

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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While the band plays the opening numbers, Jones collects herself in a private moment. "I have to find myself," she says. Chemotherapy and being away from the physicality of performing has had an impact on Sharon's usual boundless energy. She hadn't done her live show in 11 months.

Sharon Jones, Beacon, New York

Jacob Blickenstaff

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The crowd at the Beacon rises to its feet as Sharon waves goodbye at the end of the set. While resting momentarily before the encore, Jones beamed and exclaimed, "I want to dance!" and finished the show with a high-energy medley.

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