When it comes to soul, there's no doubt that powerhouse vocalist Sharon Jones can stand up to the plate and deliver a home run every time she hits the stage.
Jones, along with her band The Dap Kings, will prove that on Sunday night when the group plays at The Pageant at St Louis. However, bringing her all to the stage for the fans is only a testament to what she has endured over the past year, showing that same determination in her personal life and overcoming a serious health issue.
Last summer Jones was diagnosed with stage-two pancreatic cancer, and everything came to a screeching halt. The personal appearances and the release of the group's latest album, "Giving the People What They Want," (which was due in August) all were postponed so Jones could begin immediate chemo treatments.
After a long and arduous process, Jones received her final chemotherapy treatment on New Year's Eve, and has begun her road to full recovery. Feeling better about her health and with the album was released Jan. 14, Jones and the Dap Kings set out on the road in mid-February, garnering rave reviews.
But for a time, music wasn't a part of her life at all.
"I never even listened to music at all," Jones said in an interview. "No music, no headphones. Music is my joy, is my happiness, and that's what everyone doesn't seem to understand. They're like, 'What? You didn't listen to music?' No! I didn't feel happy with my music. I couldn't keep it on my mind, because that's a whole other Sharon. Music is my joy, and since I've been sick, I can't concentrate on the music. I'm just basically concentrating on trying to get well."
Jones insists that she's still not 100 percent.
"I wanted to get away faster, but I have to be patient and not go out and overdo things yet, because I'm still in the healing process," Jones said. "The funny part is, I'm going to be out on the road as these changes are going -- as my hair is growing, my eyelashes and eyebrows are coming back -- I'm going to be working and people are going to be seeing all this stuff happen as I see it. So, I'm nervous. I'm so happy that I'm getting back into the swing of things, but I'm nervous."
Jones is using her career to improve her health while using her health issues as an inspiration to her audience.
"That's part of my healing process, is to not try to hide the way I look, or stay away another eight or nine months until my hair grows back, or until I think I'm strong enough," Jones said. "And I think, also, maybe someone out there that's going through cancer and that's going through what I'm going through can see that life doesn't stop, or sickness isn't until death. You've got to keep going, because if you get into it, that's part of the healing. That'll help you heal faster, if you try to get back into your routine."
Jones' routine, especially on the stage, would be a workout for any performer.
Jones and the Dap Kings tear it from the the moment the first note is struck to the final bow, complete with a tight band that includes a horn section and backup singers, reminiscent of the big soul bands from the 1970s. Watching Jones perform is like a mix between Tina Turner, Steven Tyler and Etta James all rolled into one.
"I love what I do," Jones said during her performance here two years ago. "It's just raw emotion. Soul music, for a true soul artist is not just singing, it's something that you feel. From deep down inside, to express it, you gotta feel it."
Who: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis
Tickets: General Admission $25advance; $27.50 day of show
How: www.ticketmaster.com, www.thepageant.com