20 Black Voices for the New Century: Celebrated soul singer Sharon Jones is a case study on the importance of passion and persistance in music. Raised on funk and regularly performing at New York City gospel churches, she didn’t break out right away. In fact, she held down a day job as a corrections officer at Rikers Island into her early 40s, when a session gig singing with the legendary Lee Fields sparked her full-time professional singing career. 

Jones may have been a late bloomer, but she moved fast, building a name with her band The Dap-Kings and carrying the banner of Daptones Records, which released all six of her albums – from 2002’s Dap Dippin’ to the current Give the People What They Want, released in January after Jones’ triumphant return to the stage following treatment for pancreatic cancer. She’s a powerhouse vocalist, a charismatic performer and a dedicated soul who does not let anything come between her and her music.