Soul music veterans Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are VH1’s latest You Oughta Know artist, just in time for the release of Soul Time!, the band’s forthcoming release of rare tracks and b-sides. Since 1996, Sharon and the Dap-Kings have been at the forefront of funk and soul revivalism, capturing the spirit of the genre as it blossomed in the ’60s and ’70s. Using traditional analog recording methods and equipment, SJDK have no use for modernity, and are loyal to the authenticity of their sound.
The band was originally formed by Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth as the Soul Providers in the mid-nineties, and discovered Sharon Jones during early recording sessions for their first album, after she recorded back-up vocals for one of the Lee Fields tracks. So impressed were the Soul Providers with Jones’ vocals that the album, Soul Tequila, was released in 1996 featuring two solo Jones tracks (“Switchblade” and “The Landlord”). Shortly after, Roth and Lehman started a new label, Desco Records, in Brooklyn, New York, and reissued Soul Tequila as Gimme The Paw and began championing New York performers, creating an entire scene around Desco. As the reputation of Desco grew and more records were released, it eventually came time for Lehman and Roth to split in 2000 — and for Roth to start his own label, Daptone Records, with current Dap-King tenor saxophone player, Neal Sugarman. You can see where this is going, right?
From the Soul Providers came Daptone and The Dap-Kings, the label’s in-house band, that included Roth a.k.a Bosco Mann on bass, Neal Sugarman on Saxophone, as well as original members of Soul Providers, guitarist Binky Griptite, organist Earl Maxton a.k.a. Victor Axelrod, percussionist Fernando Velez and trumpeter Anda Szilagyi, and tenor saxophonist Leon Michels and drummer Homer Steinweiss from The Mighty Imperials. Together with Sharon Jones, The Dap-Kings released an album, Dap Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, in 2001 and it was received to critical acclaim. Heralded as the rebirth of funk, the union of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings became official, despite the interchange of several band members along the way.
The music of SJDK is seminal in the retro-soul movement, and the band is a clear leader of the rebirthed genre. With artists like Otis Redding as their primary influence, SJDK shun modern music and instead favour expression — looking for ways to make music connect on a very basic, organic human level as it did in the heyday of funk and soul. Indeed, the band, despite their relative obscurity from the mainstream, has collaborated with some of the most important contemporary soul artists, including producer Mark Ronson (featuring on his 2007 album, Version) and the late Amy Winehouse (on her seminal 2006 album, Back to Black). The Dap-Kings have also worked with Ben Westbeech and Wax Tailor, while Sharon has been featured by releases from They Might Be Giants and Rufus Wainwright. More recently, SJDK were featured on Michael Bublé’s Crazy Love in 2009.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are now set to release Soul Time!, a twelve song record of rare tracks and b-sides, handpicked by Daptone Records. For SJDK fans and newcomers alike, Soul Time! will feature exclusives as well as a tidy catalog of some of Sharon and the band’s most exciting, provocative and important work, including studio performances and live recordings. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are also featured in VH1’s DIVAS series for VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul, set to premiere on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 CT.