People Who Died: Sharon Jones by Brittany Katter

Sharon Jones

I was a confused and generally miserable person crashing a couch in New York City. Ambitiously I was trying to record demo tracks for my new solo rock project Katterwaul. A friend gave me the keys to a communal practice space in Bed-Stuy for this purpose. I was interrupted one day by a supermodel-turned-musician who had hired my friends to play her watered-down indie rock songs. Feeling dejected and very sorry for myself, I was convinced good looks, money, youth and privilege is what gets you ahead in the music industry.

The next day I saw Sharon Jones perform in Brooklyn.

With her booming, exuberant and commanding voice she effortlessly fronted one of the tightest soul bands in the world. Her performance slapped the self-pity right out of me, replacing it with a glowing sense of self-empowerment. Sharon Jones was, and her memory will be, a standing pillar of hope for those with a wild dream against the odds. In an increasingly fickle and shallow music industry, one always grasping for a lucrative audience, more than ever obsessed with brand and image, and forgetting the most important element of good music: soul. Jones defied all formulas for success with her race, gender, age and shape. She is testament to the dream that unwavering, focused commitment backed with talent, can still stand up in a fleeting, uncertain world.  

— Brittany Katter

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