Mavis Staples – The Spiritual & Soulful Driven Diva! By Michelle S.

Mavis Staples is spirit driven, and she comes by it naturally considering that she started out performing in a family musical act called the Staple Singers. They performed locally in churches, which led to appearing on a weekly radio show. After she graduated high school, her family took their music to the road and become known as “God’s Greatest Hitmakers.”

The staple singers became the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. In the 60’s, they became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. Singing songs which included Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and Stephen Stills “For What It’s worth”. They covered all types of pop hits with positive messages. In 1968 The group was signed to Stax Records shortly thereafter, their music hit the top 40 eight times between 1971-1975 with such hits as I’ll take you there and Let’s do it again.

This was also the time that Mavis Staples left the flock and decided to go solo. She did a few music projects, but things really didn’t take off until she recorded her 1993’s The Voice, which People Magazine named one of the Top Ten Albums of 1993. But it wasn’t until 2004 that her music and notoriety really took off with the release of Have a Little Faith on Chicago’s Alligator Records.This was the time that she became mainstream after that, she collaborated with the likes of John Scofield, Ry Cooder and her voice was even sampled by some of the biggest selling hip hop artists, including Ice Cube, Salt ‘N’ Pepa and Ludacris.

Her vocals were featured on albums by Los Lobos, Dr. John, Johnny Paycheck, Stephen Foster and lastly Bob Dylan. Yes, she is a Queen of Soul! She even turned down a marriage proposal from Bob Dylan. So where does she go from here? More musical collaborations, film work, documentaries, talk shows and stops at music festivals and to the moon if she could!

This diva is still working and in control!  Pretty soon she’s going to celebrate her 80th birthday and she has decided it’s going to be “The Celebration!” Mavis Staples has announced a trio of shows to celebrate her 80th birthday this May. Presented by Newport Folk, the shows will take place this May at “New York City’s Apollo Theater”, “Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium” and Los Angeles’s “Theatre at Ace Hotel”. The Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of Mavis Staples trio of shows will feature Mavis and special guests each night. Proceeds from the Mavis & Friends shows will go directly towards extending the Newport Festivals Foundation’s support of music education programs in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles.

So, this might be your chance to see this amazing woman live! The way she should be seen! She has a new album out called Live in London and Will be on tour as well. Lastly, Staples will also be honored on March 14 at the Luck Reunion at Willie Nelson’s Ranch, which takes place in Luck, Texas every year during SXSW. This year’s Luck Reunion will feature a female–dominated stage headlined by Staples. Each performer will honor Staples’ outstanding legacy by putting their unique spin on one of her songs as part of their set. So yes, she’s busy and keeping it real at the beautiful age of 80! Stay Tuned and Enjoy…

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