Sharon Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, but the soul/funk singer beat the disease through invasive surgery and grueling chemotherapy, uniting with her band, the Dap-Kings, to record a new album — 2014’s Give the People What They Want — and star in a documentary about her ordeal (Barbara Kopple’s Miss Sharon Jones!). But during that doc’s September 11th premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jones announced that her cancer has returned. “I start chemo on Wednesday. But I’m gonna keep fighting. We got a long way to go,” she said from the stage, Indiewire reports.
Jones was joined onstage by her oncologist, Dr. James Leonardo, during the screening. “People ask me how I can do what I do,” he reportedly said, acknowledging the singer’s battle. “This is how.”
On Sunday, during the film’s second TIFF screening, Jones spoke of her courage and resolve. “I’m going to do what I have to do. I’m going to sing,” the singer told the audience, according to The Toronto Star, promising that her diagnosis won’t prevent her from “giving the people what they want.” Jones admitted that during the Dap-Kings’ Saturday night performance in Hamilton, she battled a pins-and-needles sensation in her hands and feet.
Jones discussed her previous cancer battle in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, venting about the high costs of health care in the U.S. “It doesn’t make any damn sense,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wait, if I didn’t have insurance, you would be charging me more? Poor people should be charged even less!’ People are dying! They are letting people die! It’s sad. The doctors in the hospital will not operate on you. They will not take you. And so you’re just going to die.”
The 59-year-old also explained that the main goal behind her comeback LP was to “finally get recognized by the music industry.”
“You don’t have enough soul artists, so they put pop music under R&B and funk,” she said. “When people ask what music I sing, I say soul, R&B and funk. And at the awards, we aren’t recognized. Why? Because we’re an independent label. We’ve been going on here for 19 years, and these people don’t even know. How are we not even recognized?”
Last month, Jones & the Dap-Kings announced an 11-track holiday LP, It’s a Holiday Soul Party, due out October 30th.