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Observations: Proving the doubter wrong

The Georgian-born 54 year-old American soul singer Sharon Jones is smarting at the memory, 25 years ago, of a record company A&R man discussing her potential as a recording artist.

"He said I didn't have the look; he told me to use bleaching powder on my skin," she says.

"He said I was too black, too fat, too short and since I was past 25, he told me I was too old.

"Man, I could've smacked him in the mouth."

Jones had the last laugh, of course. Now, with four albums under her belt, collaborations with the likes of David Byrne, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and Booker T & the M.G.s, there's no disputing her status as a soul diva of unrivalled brilliance and authenticity.

Jones never rested in her efforts to make it as a singer and her luck finally changed in 1996 when she met Gabe Roth, a member of the Soul Providers, a funk-soul outfit famed for shunning digital recording methods in favour of the traditional analogue equipment used in the Sixties and Seventies.

In 2000 the Soul Providers became the Dap-Kings, inviting Jones to be lead singer.

Ironically, Amy Winehouse probably wouldn't have achieved the critical kudos she has enjoyed were in not for Jones's Dap-Kings who, having been spotted by the producer Mark Ronson, were hired to play a series of tracks on Winehouse's Back In Black album, including Rehab and You Know I'm No Good and imbue it with authentic sound of Sixties soul.

Winehouse liked them so much that she requested their services as a backing band on her first US tour.

"But seriously, she don't have what I have," giggles Jones.

The album 'I Learned The Hard Way' is re-released on Daptone in a 7-inch vinyl box-set