Barbara Kopple's Miss Sharon Jones! tells the kind of true story that makes you want to kick creation itself square in the crotch. Here's that firecracker soul singer, nearing her 60s, her boogie still majestic, her band still a tight retro marvel, her wail still the southern end of a northbound dragster.
Jones entered chemo for pancreatic cancer in late 2013. By the following February, the indefatigable singer was back on the road. Kopple's film follows Jones through those tough months, showcasing her resilience, her hopefulness and her everyday eccentricity.
Jones was a regular person longer than she was an indie-soul star, working as a corrections officer and singing in a wedding band before finally putting a record out at age 40. So she faces her diagnosis -- and financial uncertainty -- like people you know might: humbly, grateful for the help and love of those around her.
Kopple's film is intimate and rousing. One of the most moving scenes shows Jones, bald and thin, working through new numbers with her band the Dap-Kings, her voice still resonant. The performance is a treasure even without her strutting footwork and percussive James Brown growls and shouts.
It all builds to a feel-good ending belied by the fact that the story hasn't ended. Jones is again undergoing chemo treatments, this time for cancer in her stomach, lungs and liver. Meanwhile, she's touring with Hall & Oates. "I get up on the stage and the pains seem to go away for a while," she said on Billboard's Soul Sisters podcast. That's proof of what you already feel at a great musical performance: Some talents are actually healing. Stay strong, Miss Jones.