Editor’s note: This article was originally published February 24, 2014
When Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings shot the video for "Stranger to My Happiness," off the band’s 2014 release "Give the People What They Want!" it resonated with the 57-year-old soul spitfire in a way she had never imagined when the song was originally recorded in early 2013.
"I felt like a stranger to my happiness," Jones said over the phone recently as her tour bus navigated an ice storm paralyzed the Southeast on the way to a show in Durham, North Carolina. "I was happy, but I didn’t feel too happy because I’m doing this video and I don’t have hair. And I’m doing this video and I have this port that’s in my (chest) and you can see the port."
The latest album was completed in May of 2013 and originally scheduled for release in August, when Jones was diagnosed with stage one bile-duct cancer. After she underwent a highly invasive surgery ordered by her medical team the diagnosis was changed to stage two pancreatic cancer. Read more about Jones’ treatment and her road to recovery here. (paywall)
Now, less than two months after completing a six-month course of chemotherapy, Jones is on a cross-country tour that doesn’t break til May. She’ll be in Austin at ACL Live on Wednesday. Songs that she once feared she might never live to sing have taken on a different meaning, as the band has reworked tracks like "Retreat!" and "Get Up, Get Out" so Jones can tell the story of her fight against cancer.
Meanwhile fans have rallied, using the hashtag #wewantsharon to welcome Jones back to the stage, flooding social media with jubilant photos and glowing reviews. For Jones, the enthusiastic fan response has been overwhelming and uplifting.
"My fans," she said, her voice catching slightly, "It just makes me more humble."
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings play ACL Live on Wednesday. Tickets $29-$49. More info.