On Tuesday evening, Tuffy P and I, along with our pal Candy Minx, who is visiting from Chicago, headed up to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (the joint formerly known to Torontonians simply as The Bloor) to see the Barbara Kopple documentary featuring a year in the life of soul singer Sharon Jones.
I should put my cards on the table up front and say that even though lots of people think of me as a banjo and accordion freak, I’m a big Sharon Jones fan. The Dap Kings are a great band and Sharon Jones does up the whole soul thing just right. While I was road-tripping through middle-America earlier this summer, Tuffy P scored us tickets to see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Toronto Jazz Festival at City Hall. What a great show that was!
The film documents a devastating period in Sharon Jones’ life. At the peak of her career, with a new album near release, the big C looms its ugly head and Sharon Jones found herself sidelined with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Surgery. Chemo. Recovery. And in February of 2015, an amazing return to the stage.
Barbara Kopple gives us a glimpse of Sharon Jones outside of that charmed world of the music business and we see the performer struggling with her disease, her mortality, the effects of the treatment and her fears about the future. We also glimpse a practical financial reality – the band has no work when Sharon can’t perform.
Miss Sharon Jones is a difficult film to watch. We see a very tough and determined Sharon Jones getting back to the stage, realizing that even in recovery, there is no guarantee she is out of the woods. In fact we know – watching today – her cancer is back.
Excellent documentary. Recommended.