Part of Dec 2011 by

Mavis Staples Tours with You Are Not Alone

One of the most ideal descriptions of Mavis Staples music is that she reaches down into herself pulls out her soul and then hands it out freely to her audience.  An undeniable legend in the gospel world her style of rhythm and blues has always been focused towards the uplifting of the listener through her simple and honest style and heartfelt emotions delivered with incredible talent.  She got her start in 1950 with her family’s singing group The Staple Singers that was led by Roebuck “Pops” Staples and had their first big hit “Uncloudy Day” in 1956 when Mavis was just a junior in high school.  “Uncloudy Day” is one of those songs that has so much cool about it that a film maker could elevate any scene just by having it in the background.

The Staple Singers had become the musical driving force of the civil rights movement by the mid-sixties brought about by Roebuck Staples friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr.  Their version of the Luther Ingram and Mack Rice song “Respect Yourself” had powerful appeal within the movement and also basically everyone else of that era that had at least semi-functional ears and some sort of rhythmic blood movement in their veins.  The Staple Singers also worked with and covered the tunes of Stephen Stills (“For What It’s Worth) and Bob Dylan (“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”) who according to Mavis Staple asked for her hand in marriage from her father: Which sounds to me to be one of those moments worth building a time machine for just to go check out how Dylan delivered those lines to Pops Staple.

Now the Staple Singers as a whole have faded away from the active music scene having retired in 1994 however postbandously they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2005 they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Mavis Staples has had a stellar solo career running parallel to the family business for many decades with 13 full length albums, 16 singles that charted and my personal favorite (This one will make the purists cringe but it’s very festive and I’m sure paid some bills.) she did the theme song to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase.  Don’t worry I won’t post the link because at this time of year the movie is probably on your 500 channels somewhere right now.

On September 14, 2010 Mavis Staples released her latest album You Are Not Alone which upon first listening is timeless and could have been released at any time in her career without feeling forced or awkward.  The album is produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy who did a great job balancing his influence and just letting the flow happen.  There are thirteen tracks on the album with a good recipe of traditional gospel, covers, and originals.  Overall a very worthy album to add to the Mavis section of your music library.

Mavis Staples is currently on tour please check her website to get all the details:

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