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Late Night FDL: I’m Not Gonna Cry

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings – I’m Not Gonna Cry

Sharon Jones is finally getting some respect…

In the last decade, America has a made a habit out of importing soul music from England: think of Duffy, Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Sam Smith. These singers have enjoyed immense success repackaging motifs from late ’60s, early ’70s black pop — when studios like Motown and Stax were at their critical and commercial peaks.

This practice of importing soul is grounded in tradition. England has a knack for hearing American music and then sending it back to us in slightly altered form. And white versions of black music — whether jazz, blues, soul, disco, or rap — have always been a commercially successful proposition.

But why doesn’t America embrace its own soul singers? Take Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, who have been releasing music for more than a decade on the New York label Daptone. They never get played on the radio and rarely earn the accolades showered on their overseas counterparts. But if you like Adele’s “Rumour Has It” or Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” you’ll find plenty to appreciate on any Daptone record. {…}

The Dap-Kings recently earned their first Grammy nomination — Give The People What They Want, their fifth full-length, is in the running for best R&B album. Jones tells Billboard she had almost given up on the thought of ever getting recognized by the Grammys. “The guys were always pushing to see if we got nominated,” she says of past years. “This year it was like, ‘Eh, who cares?’ And we get it. My manager didn’t even know!”

Faithful representations of vintage soul and funk are in high demand, and it’s tough sitting by year after year and watching other people get praised for the style that Jones & co. have been employing for so long. The Dap-Kings even helped other artists achieve success — most famously Winehouse and her producer Mark Ronson. “They recorded six of the songs [for Back To Black]… right there in Daptone,” Jones remembers. Winehouse and Ronson earned worldwide recognition for that album, which has sold close to 3 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music.

But the Dap-Kings didn’t get the bump they hoped for from the collaboration. “How many years ago was that?” Jones asks. “We’re just getting acknowledged in 2015, and we’ve been out here since ’96, ’95…[Daptone] had no idea what was going on with [Winehouse]. If they did, they would have handled that business a little differently.” (Gabriel Roth, who co-founded the Daptone label, won a Grammy as recording engineer on Back To Black. He has yet to be awarded for his production work on the label he helped start.)

Jones proposes a few theories that might explain why her group has been neglected. “Even right now, we’re [nominated] for R&B!” she exclaims. “Why is there not a category for soul? That’s my goal. Put me in the right category.”

What’s on your mind tonite…?

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