Staples performing in Brooklyn, New York, in 2007
|Born||July 10, 1939|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Mavis Staples (born July 10, 1939) is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. She has recorded and performed with her family's band The Staple Singers and also as a solo artist.
Staples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.
Staples was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 10, 1939. She 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 Pervis, 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".
|Mavis Staples: "I'll Take You There", 2:44, The White House|
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 that they "were good friends, yes indeed" and that he had asked her father for her hand in marriage.
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", produced by Al Bell and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning, "Let's Do It Again," and a No. 2 single "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?"
Mavis 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.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 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 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 Staples, 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.
Her voice has been sampled by some of the biggest selling artists, including Salt 'N' Pepa, Ice Cube, Ludacris, and Hozier. 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 "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking", from the album Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan ) to The Band, Ray Charles, Prince, 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 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.
In 2009, 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 .
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.
Staples also performed at the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors, singing in a tribute to honoree Paul McCartney.
Staples headlined on June 10, 2012, at Chicago's Annual Blues Festival in Grant Park.
On June 27, 2015, Staples performed on the Park Stage of Glastonbury Somerset UK. On October 31, 2015, Staples performed with Joan Osborne in Washington, D.C. at The George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium as part of their Solid Soul Tour.
In February 2016, Staples' album Livin' on a High Note was released. Produced by M. Ward, the album features songs written specifically for Staples by Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, tUnE-yArds, Neko Case, Aloe Blacc, and others. Discussing the album Staples said:
I've been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I'm so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I'm always telling a part of history that brought us down and I'm trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, 'Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!' There's a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, 'I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.' I'm living on a high note, I'm above the clouds. I'm just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.
In January 2017, Staples was featured as a guest vocalist on "I Give You Power", a single from Arcade Fire benefiting the American Civil Liberties Union.In February 2017, Staples appeared on NPR's Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me! in the "Not My Job" segment, answering questions about the rock band The Shaggs. In April 2017, "Let Me Out", a single from the fifth studio album by Gorillaz, Humanz , was released, featuring Staples and rapper Pusha T.
Staples' sixteenth album If All I Was Was Black was released on November 17, 2017. The record was again produced by Jeff Tweedy and contains all original songs cowritten by Mavis and Tweedy. Following the release, Staples toured with Bob Dylan. She also appeared on the 2017/18 Hootenanny. In 2018, she sang on Hozier's single "Nina Cried Power".
In May 2019, Staples celebrated her 80th birthday with a concert at the Apollo Theater, 63 years after first appearing at the theater as a teenager with her family band, the Staple Singers, in 1956. The show, which featured special guest artists, including David Byrne and Norah Jones, is one of a series of collaborative concerts she staged in May to commemorate her 80th birthday.She also performed at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival.
On June 3, 2020, Staples collaborated on the track 'pulling the pin' with Run The Jewels on their fourth studio album RTJ4.
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 .
Staples performed the title theme song for 1989's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation .
Mavis! , the first feature documentary about Staples and the Staple Singers, directed by Jessica Edwards, had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2015.Mavis! screened in theaters and was broadcast on HBO in February 2016.
On September 8, 2015, Staples was a featured performer on the premiere episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert , during which Stephen Colbert thanked her personally for appearing.
On June 15, 2019, Staples appeared as the featured musical guest on the CBS This Morning "Saturday Sessions" segment, where she played songs from her newest release, We Get By .
Staples was briefly married to Spencer Leak in 1964; they divorced when Staples would not end her music career to stay home.She has no children. In the 2015 documentary Mavis! she reveals that Bob Dylan once proposed to her, and she turned him down.
|1961||Grammy Awards||Best Inspirational Performance||Swing Low(with The Staples Singers)||Nominated|
|1968||Best Soul Gospel Performance||Long Walk to D.C.(with The Staples Singers)||Nominated|
|1971||Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Respect Yourself(with The Staples Singers)||Nominated|
|1972||I'll Take You There||Nominated|
|1973||"Be What You Are"||Nominated|
|1988||Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus||"Oh Happy Day" (with The Staples Singers)||Nominated|
|2003||Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||"Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" (with Bob Dylan)||Nominated|
|2004||Best Gospel Performance||"Lay My Burden Down"||Nominated|
|2005||Lifetime Achievement Award||The Staples Singers||Won|
|Blues Music Awards||Album of the Year||Have a Little Faith||Won|
|Soul Blues Album||Won|
|Song of the Year||"Have a Little Faith"||Won|
|Soul Blues Female Artist||Mavis Staples||Won|
|Americana Music Honors & Awards||Spirit of Americana/Free Speech Award||Won|
|2009||Grammy Awards||Best Contemporary Blues Album||Live: Hope at the Hideout||Nominated|
|2010||Best Americana Album||You Are Not Alone||Won|
|2013||One True Vine||Nominated|
|2015||Best American Roots Performance||"See That My Grave is Kept Clean"||Won|
|2017||Blues Music Awards||Soul Blues Female Artist||Mavis Staples||Won|
|2019||Americana Music Honors & Awards||Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Spirit of Americana/Free Speech Award||Won|
|2020||Blues Music Awards||Entertainer of the Year||Nominated|
|Instrumentalist - Vocals||Won|
|2021||UK Americana Awards||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
In 1999, The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Lauryn Hill.
In 2005, Mavis and the Staple Singers were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mavis Staples is a recipient of a 2006 National Heritage Fellowship, awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
Staples was named No. 56 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2008 list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
On February 13, 2011, 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".
On May 7, 2011, Staples was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
On May 6, 2012, Staples 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.
Staples was recognized as a 2016 Kennedy Center Honoree at the 39th annual gala event held in Washington, D.C.
In 2017, Staples was inducted in to the Blues Hall of Fame.
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin's career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as "I Never Loved a Man ", "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", "Chain of Fools", "Think", and "I Say a Little Prayer" propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the "Queen of Soul".
The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul, and R&B singing group. Roebuck "Pops" Staples, the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha, Pervis, and Mavis. Yvonne replaced her brother when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and again in 1970. They are best known for their 1970s hits "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There", "If You're Ready ", and "Let's Do It Again". While the family name is Staples, the group used "Staple" commercially.
Joan Elizabeth Osborne is an American singer, songwriter, and interpreter of music, having recorded and performed in various popular American musical genres including rock, pop, soul, R&B, blues, and country. She is best known for her recording of the Eric Bazilian-penned song "One of Us" from her debut album, Relish (1995). Both the single and the album became worldwide hits and garnered a combined seven Grammy Award nominations. Osborne has toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers and was featured in the documentary film about them, Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002).
Norah Jones is an American singer, songwriter, actress and pianist. She has won multiple awards and has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. Billboard named her the top jazz artist of the 2000s decade. She has won nine Grammy Awards and was ranked 60th on Billboard magazine's artists of the 2000s decade chart.
Johnnie Harrison Taylor was an American recording artist and songwriter who performed a wide variety of genres, from blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel to pop, doo-wop, and disco.
Steven Lee Cropper, sometimes known as "The Colonel", is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, which backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. He also acted as the producer of many of these records. He was later a member of the Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Susan Tedeschi is an American singer and guitarist. A multiple Grammy Award nominee, she is a member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a conglomeration of her band, her husband Derek Trucks' the Derek Trucks Band, and other musicians.
The Blind Boys of Alabama, also billed as The Five Blind Boys of Alabama and Clarence Fountain and the Blind Boys of Alabama, is an American gospel group. The group was founded in 1939 in Talladega, Alabama and has featured a changing roster of musicians over its history, the majority of whom are or were visually impaired.
Aleicha Janeice Campbell, known professionally as Leela James, is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter.
Roebuck "Pops" Staples was an American gospel and R&B musician. A "pivotal figure in gospel in the 1960s and 1970s," he was an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and singer. He was the patriarch and member of singing group The Staple Singers, which included his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cleotha.
Irma Thomas is an American singer from New Orleans. She is known as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans".
"Take My Hand, Precious Lord" is a gospel song. The lyrics were written by the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, who also adapted the melody.
William Bell is an American soul singer and songwriter. As a performer, he is probably best known for his debut single, 1961's "You Don't Miss Your Water"; 1968's top 10 hit in the UK "Private Number", a duet with Judy Clay; and his only US top 40 hit, 1976's "Tryin' to Love Two", which also hit No. 1 on the R&B chart. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song "A Tribute to a King".
Bettye LaVette is an American soul singer-songwriter who made her first record at sixteen, but achieved only intermittent fame until 2005, when her album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise was released to widespread critical acclaim, and was named on many critics' "Best of 2005" lists. Her next album, The Scene of the Crime, debuted at number one on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart and was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 2008 Grammy Awards.
Judge Kenneth Peterson, known professionally as Lucky Peterson, was an American musician who played contemporary blues, fusing soul, R&B, gospel and rock and roll. He played guitar and keyboards. Music journalist Tony Russell, in his book The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray has said, "he may be the only blues musician to have had national television exposure in short pants."
Ledisi Anibade Young, better known simply as Ledisi, is an American R&B and jazz recording artist, songwriter, and actress. Her first name means "to bring forth" or "to come here" in Yoruba.
Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan is a tribute album independently produced by Jeffrey Gaskill of Burning Rose Productions, Ltd. and released under license on the Sony/Columbia label in 2003. The compilation features traditional and contemporary gospel singers performing songs written by Bob Dylan during his "born again" period (1979–81).
Reneé Austin is an American soul, R&B, gospel, singer, songwriter, actor and speaker. She is a six-time Minnesota Music Award Winner including 'Female Vocalist of the Year'. Austin has a wide vocal range, and has opened for Los Lobos, Tower of Power, Delbert McClinton, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Keb Mo and more. She released three albums between 1997 and 2005, and supplied backing vocals on Tommy Castro's 2005 album, Soul Shaker. Austin was also part of a group of women who performed in Morgan Freeman's PBS Blues Divas, as well as singing for a live WWE season premier, whose television audience was six million. Her singing voice has been compared by critics to those of Mavis Staples, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, Regina Belle, and also as a female version of Michael McDonald.
If All I Was Was Black is the thirteenth studio album by American R&B, soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples. It was released on November 17, 2017, by ANTI- Records. The album was written and produced by Jeff Tweedy.
Mahalia Jackson was the preeminent gospel singer of the 20th century, her career spanning from about 1931 to 1971. She began singing in church as a child in New Orleans, then moved to Chicago as an adolescent and joined Chicago's first gospel group, the Johnson Singers. By demand, she began to sing solo at funerals and political rallies. For about 15 years, Jackson toured a circuit of churches and revivals spreading gospel blues throughout the U.S. working odd jobs to make a living. Her first recordings were made in 1931, produced by the owner of a funeral parlor in Chicago where Jackson often sang, although these have been lost.
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| First Amendment Center/AMA "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award |