Mavis Staples

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Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples.jpg
Staples performing in Brooklyn, New York in 2007
Background information
Birth name Mavis Staples
Born (1939-07-10) July 10, 1939 (age 75)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Rhythm and blues, soul, gospel
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1950–present
Labels Epic, Stax/Volt, Curtom, Alligator, Anti-, Paisley Park/Warner Bros., Verve
Associated acts The Staple Singers, Prince
Website www.mavisstaples.com

Mavis Staples (born July 10, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress and civil rights activist who recorded with The Staple Singers, her family's band.

Biography[edit]

Mavis Staples began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with "Uncloudy Day" for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis graduated from what is now Paul Robeson High School in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples on guitar and including the voices of Mavis and her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Purvis, the Staples were called "God's Greatest Hitmakers."

With Mavis' voice and Pops' songs, singing, and guitar playing, the Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on United and Riverside as well as Vee-Jay) to become the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops' close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. They covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and a version of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth."

During a December 20, 2008 appearance on National Public Radio's news show "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," when Staples was asked about her past personal relationship with Dylan, she admitted they "were good friends, yes indeed" and that he had asked her father for her hand in marriage.[1]

The Staples sang "message" songs like "Long Walk to D.C." and "When Will We Be Paid?," bringing their moving and articulate music to a huge number of young people. The group signed to Stax Records in 1968, joining their gospel harmonies and deep faith with musical accompaniment from members of Booker T. and the MGs. The Staple Singers hit the Top 40 eight times between 1971 and 1975, including two No. 1 singles, "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again," and a No. 2 single "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?"

Staples made her first solo foray while at Epic Records with The Staple Singers releasing a lone single "Crying in the Chapel" to little fanfare in the late 1960s.[2] The single was finally re-released on the 1994 Sony Music collection Lost Soul. Her first solo album would not come until a 1969 self-titled release for the Stax label. After another Stax release, Only for the Lonely, in 1970, she released a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. A 1984 album (also self-titled) preceded two albums under the direction of rock star Prince; 1989's Time Waits for No One, followed by 1993's The Voice, which People magazine named one of the Top Ten Albums of 1993. Her recent 1996 release, Spirituals & Gospels: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson was recorded with keyboardist Lucky Peterson. The recording honours Mahalia Jackson, a close family friend and a significant influence on Mavis Staples' life.

Staples singing during the 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellows concert.

Staples made a major national return with the release of the album Have a Little Faith on Chicago's Alligator Records, produced by Jim Tullio, in 2004. The album featured spiritual music, some of it semi-acoustic.

In 2004, Staples contributed to a Verve release by legendary jazz/rock guitarist, John Scofield. The album entitled, That's What I Say, was a tribute to the great Ray Charles, and led to a live tour featuring Mavis, John Scofield, pianist Gary Versace, drummer Steve Hass, and bassist Rueben Rodriguez. A new album for Anti- Records entitled We'll Never Turn Back was released on April 24, 2007. The Ry Cooder-produced concept album focuses on Gospel songs of the civil rights movement and also included two new original songs by Cooder.[3]

Her voice has been sampled by some of the biggest selling hip-hop artists, including Salt 'N' Pepa, Ice Cube and Ludacris. Mavis Staples has recorded with a wide variety of musicians, from her friend Bob Dylan (with whom she was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award in the "Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals" category for their duet on "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking" from the album Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan) to The Band, Ray Charles, Nona Hendryx, George Jones, Natalie Merchant, Ann Peebles, and Delbert McClinton. She has provided vocals on current albums by Los Lobos and Dr. John, and she appears on tribute albums to such artists as Johnny Paycheck, Stephen Foster and Bob Dylan.

In 2003, Staples performed in Memphis at the Orpheum Theater alongside a cadre of her fellow former Stax Records stars during "Soul Comes Home," a concert held in conjunction with the grand opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music at the original site of Stax Records, and appears on the CD and DVD that were recorded and filmed during the event. In 2004, she returned as guest artist for the Stax Music Academy's SNAP! Summer Music Camp and performed, again at the Orpheum and to rave reviews,[who?] with 225 of the academy's students. In June 2007, she again returned to the venue to perform at the Stax 50th Anniversary Concert to Benefit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, produced by Concord Records, who now owns and has revived the Stax Records label.

Staples was a judge for the 3rd and 7th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.[4]

Staples singing at the 2008 Kitchener Blues Festival

In 2009, Mavis Staples, along with Patty Griffin and The Tri-City Singers released a version of the song “Waiting For My Child To Come Home” on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration.[5]

On October 30, 2010, Staples performed at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear alongside singer Jeff Tweedy. In 2011 she was joined on-stage at the Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival by Arcade Fire singer Win Butler. The two performed a version of "The Weight" by the Band.[6]

Staples also performed at the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors, singing in a tribute to Paul McCartney, an honoree.

On February 13, 2011, Mavis Staples won her first Grammy award in the category for Best Americana Album for You Are Not Alone. In her acceptance speech, a shocked and crying Staples said "This has been a long time coming."[7]

On May 7, 2011, Mavis was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

On May 6, 2012, Mavis was awarded an honorary doctorate, and performed "I'll Take You There" with current and graduating students at Columbia College Chicago's 2012 Commencement Exercise in Chicago, Illinois at the historic Chicago Theatre.

Mavis headlined on June 10, 2012 at Chicago's Annual Blues Festival in Grant Park.

Film and television[edit]

During her career Staples has appeared in many films and television shows, including The Last Waltz, Graffiti Bridge, Wattstax, New York Undercover, Songs of Praise, Soul Train, Soul to Soul, The Psychiatrist, and The Cosby Show.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "Crying in the Chapel" b/w "Nothing Lasts Forever" (Epic)
  • "I Have Learned to Do Without You" b/w "Since I Fell For You"
  • "Endlessly" b/w "Don't Change Me Now" (Volt)
  • "A House Is Not a Home" (Volt)
  • "A Piece of the Action" b/w "Til Blossoms Bloom" (Curtom)
  • The Weight on the The Last Waltz (1976)
  • "Oh What a Feeling" (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • "Tonight I Feel Like Dancing" (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • "Love Gone Bad" (1984)
  • "Show Me How It Works" (from Wildcats) (Warner Bros., 1986)
  • "20th Century Express" b/w "All The Discomforts Of Home" (Paisley Park, 1989)
  • "Time Waits for No One" (Paisley Park, 1989)
  • "Jaguar" (Paisley Park, 1989)
  • "Christmas Vacation" (Paisley Park, 1989, Promo single)
  • "Melody Cool" (Paisley Park, 1991)
  • "The Voice" (Paisley Park, 1993)
  • "Blood Is Thicker Than Time" (Paisley Park, 1993)

Other[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Mavis Staples". Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!. National Public Radio. 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  2. ^ Tony Cummings (February 1, 2008). "Mavis Staples: From Stax, to Prince, to an acclaimed Civil Rights album". Cross Rhythms. 
  3. ^ Cohen, Jonathan Cohen and Martens, Todd (December 19, 2006). "Mavis Staples Gets Personal On Anti- Debut". Billboard. 
  4. ^ Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  5. ^ "Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah go gospel for "Day"". Reuters. March 27, 2009. 
  6. ^ Wilkey, Robin (August 15, 2011). "Win Butler & Mavis Staples Perform Live Together". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Jenny Charlesworth (February 13, 2011). "Mavis Staples Wins First Ever Grammy for Best Americana Album". Spinner. 
  8. ^ Mavis Staples Oh What A Feeling / Mono Albums, CDs, Vinyl Records and LPs
  9. ^ Mavis Staples CDs, Vinyl Records, CD Singles, Used CD's and Music Albums - Buy at MusicStack
  10. ^ Staples does a version of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken". The 1935 song adaptation by The Carter Family was recorded by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on The Survivors Live (Columbia, 1982). See "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" Song Adaptation History; www.secondhandsongs.com. See also Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By).

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Charlie Daniels
First Amendment Center/AMA "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award
2007
Succeeded by
Joan Baez