Sharon Jones appeared on NPR's All Things Considered for an uplifting and insightful interview regarding her recent recovery from stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Jones was diagnosed last year and had to to take time off from touring and recording, but she completed chemotherapy as of New Year's Eve and her new album with the Dap-Kings, Give The People What They Want, was released today on their own Daptone Records.
In the chat with host Arun Rath, Sharon talked about her recovery process, the first time singing since she got sick, lip-syncing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the fact that she couldn't listen to music while she was going through chemo. Read some highlights of the interview below and listen to the full audio above.
After describing how the sickness "hit her square in the back during a performance," Jones talks about how her life is resuming now that the treatment is finished:
"...I have to be patient and not go out and overdo things yet, because I'm still in the healing process. 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."
Rath asked Sharon whether she used music as a part of her healing process, but the singer says no:
"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 also spoke about her reasons for shooting the recent video for "Stranger To My Happiness."
"I looked in the mirror and I said, "Wow. Do I really want to do this video, with no hair? Do I really want to do this video with this port sticking out of the top of my chest?" And then, the more I thought about it, I went in and I said, "Yeah, let me do this. Let my fans see what I'm going through.""
When asked if her busy upcoming tour schedule might be too much for her, Jones had this to say:
"No, the doctor told me to just take my time. He was like, "Don't push yourself. You'll feel how you feel." And the guys in the band have got my back, no matter what. If I'm out there 15, 20 minutes and I look at them like, "I can't do it," they know I can walk off and they can jam something and I can come back on.
I sing this song in church — "I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me." I got a feeling that all these shows, all this everything, is part of my blessing. And in my heart, I know I'm going to do every show and everything is going to be OK."