Anyone who’s seen Sharon Jones live knows the woman isn’t short on strength; she’s a born entertainer who struts across the stage belting out songs that hit the sweet spot between joyous and world-weary. When the 60-year-old soul singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, though, she had to draw on a different kind of strength.
Documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA; Shut Up and Sing) convinced Jones to let her film as she balanced life on stage with life as a cancer patient. The resulting film intersperses electrifying live footage of Jones, once called “too fat, too black, too short and too old” by a record executive, with heartbreakingly intimate moments showing Jones going through chemotherapy, losing her hair, and relying on her faith and love of music to get her through her ordeal. While the film tracks Jones through her eventual remission, the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival premiere of the doc coincided with Jones revealing that her cancer has returned and is now considered Stage Four. With the recent revelation that her Daptone Records labelmate Charles Bradley has been diagnosed with stomach cancer, it’s a dark time for fans of the soul revival that Miss Sharon Jones effectively spearheaded. But as this documentary attests, that music – so rooted in hard times – can ease any burden, if only for a little while.
9:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 | Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave. | 407-629-0054 | enzian.org | $11