“how long do I have to wait for you?” – sharon jones & the dap-kings (2005)


We all want the quality of our lives to improve. With our own individual dreams, passions, and interests, each one of us has our own motivations to achieve happiness, or what we may think is happiness. It is the chase; the pursuit of happiness where we manifest a perceived outcome. If I do this, it will make me happy. I want this because I believe I will be happy when I have it.

Fame and success, specifically in the celebrity sense, is a common motivator for a lot of people. The appeal of being lauded by the public for their own individual artistic expression drives them. And it really is appealing. Some may like the concept of celebrity more than others, but doesn’t the attention and the adoration sound at least little appealing to all of us?

Instant fame and celebrity status can be very damaging on a young psyche. Sure, we all the cautionary tales of Hollywood child stars. Cute kids with one-liners that get bombarded with sensory overload. The constant attention diminishes opportunities for self-reliance and the flashing lights can be blinded.

The stories of those who experienced fame early are a dime a dozen. I want to focus on how fame affects older people; people with decades of experience outside of the limelight. I find more often than not that people who find fame later in life tend to handle the negative consequences of international success a lot more maturely. This is because they have gratitude and appreciate the hard work and patience behind their success. Such is the case with Sharon Jones.

Currently 59, Jones attempted to break into the music industry. She crafted her sound singing in church gospel choirs and eventually got picked up as backing vocalist for session bands. However, she didn’t get her share of the limelight. Dismissed because of her looks, Jones had to find employment elsewhere. For years, Jones worked as a corrections officer and an armored car guard, but she never gave up on her dream.

In 1996, Jones was starting to get attention for her vocal performance after backing soul legend Lee Fields. It would be six years before she released her first album with the Dap-Kings, another six years before she gained international attention and played festivals, and finally, seven more years until she earned her first Grammy nomination. It took Jones nearly two decades to finally earn the respect and praise she deserves as a spirited soul goddess.

Though it wasn’t the first song I heard from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, but “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?” has since become one of my favorites. Released on her 2005 release “Naturally,” this song is a perfectly crafted soul single.   Everything works. Jones’ vocals are strong and emotive as she pleads for an answer; she loves her man, but she can’t wait forever because a girl has got to live her life. And the instrumentation from the backing band is fantastic. The Dap-Kings have earned a reputation of being a precise and tight backing band (even supporting acts like Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse). The horns are rich and the analog recording adds levels of warmth and vibrancy missing from digital recording. This track could’ve easily been an R&B radio staple in the 60s and 70s. Even upon its release in 2005, it stands out as a unique contemporary treasure a decade on.

I discovered Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings after buying their 2007 release “100 Days, 100 Nights” from the Great Escape when I was in college in Bowling Green, KY. I was instantly impressed, and I told everyone about this band. It seemed no one else had known about this band and their amazing retro-soul style. This was my first experience at being an early adopter of a really cool record. They weren’t fully recognized yet, so it felt like my own little secret; my own musical treasure. Since then, Sharon Jones is a common name among the indie soul, college radio, and festival crowds. She’s found an audience and people are paying attention. She couldn’t wait on her man much longer because she had records to make and people to entertain as a true soul diva.


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