Sharon Jones: We need awards that recognise soul music

This year’s Grammys has a category for Best Regional Roots Music Album, Best Tropical Latin Album and Best Regional Mexican Music Album. But it has no specific award for soul – and that needs to change, says celebrated US singer Sharon Jones.

Speaking to FL’s Lachlan Kanoniuk ahead of the release of new album Give The People What They Want, Jones blamed the music industry for failing to acknowledge the genre, which has undergone a revival of late thanks largely to Jones’ label Daptone and artists such as Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band and her backing band The Dap-Kings. Closer to home, the soul revival has been spearheaded by The Bamboos, Clairy Browne, Saskwatch and Hiatus Kaiyote, who scored a surprise Best R&B Performance Grammy nomination for their single ‘Nakamarra’ (featuring Q-Tip).


But Jones said it’s not enough for soul artists to be lumped in with R&B and pop, as they are with the Grammys, the Billboard Music Awards, the MTV Awards and the American Music Awards. “When they’re giving out awards I want my label to be recognised, for me to be recognised,” she told FL. “Even if I don’t win anything, just let the world know there is soul music out here. That is my next goal before I retire – to be recognised, for awards to be given out for soul music.

“You look at them give out the awards, there’s nothing for soul music,” she continued. “There’s R&B. But I see Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift winning for R&B. Not saying they can’t sing, but that’s pop. Put them in the category where they belong. It’s pop music, baby. It’s not R&B and soul. That’s what I mean. Not saying it’s bad on them, not saying it’s their fault, it’s all the music industry’s fault.”

The full interview with Jones – in which she discusses Miley Cyrus, major record labels, her battle with pancreatic cancer and her Australian tour plans – will be published on FL tomorrow. Give The People What They Want is out now through Daptone/Shock.

(Photo by Dean Reinford)