Published Jun 27, 2016In a flash of sequined fuchsia and violet, Sharon Jones skipped onto the Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage as the Dap-Kings heralded her arrival. The 60-year-old sovereign of soul beamed and laughed, seeming like she could have been the 16-year-old version of herself, a gospel singer who grew up in Brooklyn.
The Georgia-born Jones generously dished out her Southern hospitality and soul revival for a tightly packed crowd as she ran through her repertoire of breakup and homecoming songs. Hits from six LPs, as well as a few covers, had many in the crowd swaying, but none as much as Jones herself. Nominated at the Grammies for Best R&B Album in 2014, Give The People What They Want lent the set's more boisterous songs, like "Stranger to My Happiness," "Retreat!" and "Get Up and Get Out."
One look at the backing band that's been with Jones for 20 years is enough to know where their name comes from: they are undoubtedly a dapper bunch. Jones bounced across the stage with tassels shimmering between the baritone sax blasts of Cochemea Gastelum and Binky Griptite's mean guitar solo over his head. As Jones ran around her bandmates, she literally sang their praises.
"I may not have Louis Armstrong," she cried, "but I've got Chris Davis, and he'll be my Louie!" Then she belted out "When the Saints Come Marching In" alongside Davis's high-octave trumpet accompaniment.
Worried that her voice might crack at the end of the bluesy Gladys Knight & the Pips single "Every Beat of My Heart," Jones threw herself into it anyway — as she seems to have done in all aspects of her musical career.