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Staples, Mavis

Mavis Staples

Gospel singer

Best known as the lead vocalist of the Staple Singers, a family soul-gospel ensemble that flourished from the 1950s through the 1970s and beyond, Mavis Staples has also released a series of albums as a solo artist. Her voice, though not a gospel powerhouse, is instantly compelling, with its deep-like-a-river quality of moral conviction. Over her long career, Staples has had many admirers among other musicians, including Bob Dylan and Prince, and her solo work, which had never quite found its course among the shifting winds of musical fashion, won new recognition with the release of her 2004 album Have a Little Faith. In 2005 Staples accepted a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement on behalf of the Staple Singers, of whom she was the last surviving original member.

Mavis Staples was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 10, 1939 (or, according to some sources, 1940). Her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, had grown up on Mississippi's Dockery Plantation, a key site in the development of the blues, and had learned to play the guitar from the great early bluesman Charley Patton. After he moved north to Chicago in 1936, Pops Staples began to organize gospel quartets that would meet after he finished his day's work at a meatpacking plant. And it was gospel that Mavis Staples heard at home. "He used to play records by the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Soul Sisters, the Blind Boys of Mississippi as well as the Blind Boys of Alabama, but after I heard [gospel great] Mahalia [Jackson] sing 'Move On Up a Little Higher,' I had to play her music every day," Staples told Greg Quill of the Toronto Star.

Sounded Older Than 15 to Listeners

Pops Staples, dissatisfied with the attendance habits of his group the Trumpet Jubilees, recruited his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Cleo, and Yvonne to form the Staple Singers around 1948. The first song they learned together was the country classic "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and it became one of their trademark numbers. The group began performing in Chicago churches and then on a weekly radio program. In 1953 they made a 78 rpm record, "Sit Down Servant," and three years later they scored their first national hit, "Uncloudy Day," after signing with the Chicago blues powerhouse Vee Jay. The Staple Singers stood out not only because of the shimmering electric guitar of Pops Staples, but also because of Mavis's lead vocals. "I was a skinny little knock-kneed girl with a big voice that comes from my mother's side," Staples recalled to Washington Post writer Richard Harrington. "Deejays would announce, 'This is little 15-year-old Mavis singing' and people would say it's gotta either be a man or a big lady. People were betting that I was not a little girl."

Staples considered going to nursing school, but finally chose to stay with the family group; she often told a story of how her father, one of 14 children, would hold 14 pencils together to show his own children how hard they were to break, as compared with breaking each one individually. In the 1960s, some said, the Staple Singers provided the soundtrack to the civil rights revolution. African-American groups found common cause with white folk performers, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., preached the gospel of equal rights across the South.

"I really like this man's message and I think if he can preach it, we can sing it," Pops Staples told his children, as Mavis recalled to Harrington. The Staple Singers performed with the then-acoustic folk musician Bob Dylan and began to record his songs, including the blistering antiwar anthem "Masters of War." Dylan, for his part, had been a Staple Singers fan ever since he heard their recordings on Nashville AM radio powerhouse WLAC as a 12-year-old in Minnesota. A romance sprang up between Dylan and Mavis Staples, although it was not publicly revealed until many years later. Dylan proposed marriage at one point, but was turned down, even though Pops Staples backed the union. The two remained friends, and Staples later regretted her decision. "It was really too bad," she told Harrington. "I often wonder when I see Bobby's son Jakob, how would our son have looked and how would he have sounded."

Recorded Secular Music for Stax Labels

Staples made her solo recording debut in 1969 on the Volt imprint of Memphis's Stax label, with the secular Mavis Staples album and its 1970 Stax followup, Only for the Lonely. These albums, with compositional contributions from the Stax songwriting staff, had only moderate success, but the Staple Singers, also recording for Stax by that time, reached the peak of their commercial success in the early 1970s. Staples had a hand in composing several of the group's top hits, including 1972's chart-topping and widely familiar "I'll Take You There," a song that seemed to distill into funky gospel cadences the hopeful atmosphere of the civil rights era. In 1974 the group moved to the Chicago-based Curtom label, headed by soul singer Curtis Mayfield, and the following year they scored another number one hit with "Let's Do It Again."

After recording a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, for Curtom in 1977, Staples made another try at a solo career with the album Mavis Staples. Produced by former Motown songwriters Eddie and Brian Holland, along with Stax veteran Steve Cropper, and featuring songwriting contributions from Aretha Franklin's younger sister Carolyn, the album produced only one single that reached the lower levels of the R&B charts. Delayed for several years, the album tanked after its 1984 release on the HDH label, but it remained a personal favorite for Staples.

By the late 1980s, with no recording contract on the horizon, Staples was living in Chicago and facing tax problems and overdue bills. Things turned around when another fan from the pop world, the funk- and rock-influenced Prince, offered her a seven-year contract on his Minneapolis-based Paisley Park label. When asked how it felt to be working with Prince, Staples often directed the questioner to ask Prince how it felt to be working with Mavis Staples. Prince tailored his songwriting to Staples on the two albums she recorded for him, Time Waits for No One (1989) and The Voice (1993). He avoided the sexual themes of much of his own music, but the albums did not sell well, either with youthful urban fans or with the traditional Staple Singers base that was leery of Prince's influence. Still, the two albums earned strongly positive reviews and kept Staples in the public eye, leading to guest slots on 1994's Rhythm, Country & Blues collection and other album releases.

For the Record …

Born on July 10, c. 1939, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Roebuck "Pops" and Oceala Staples; married and divorced.

Staple Singers (family gospel group), member, 1950–; solo career, 1969–.

Awards: VH1 cable network, 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee (with the Staple Singers), 1999; Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement (with the Staple Singers), 2005.

Addresses: Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—The Rosebud Agency, P.O. Box 170429, San Francisco, CA 94117.

Prepared Final Staple Singers Album

In 1996 Staples recorded Spirituals & Gospel, a tribute to her idol, Mahalia Jackson. And she entered the studio in Memphis as producer in 1997 to record a final Pops Staples album. "These were old songs he sang as a boy, and I asked him to record them as simply as possible, just his voice and guitar," Staples told the Toronto Star. "I could add other stuff after his work was done." Pops Staples fell ill that year and died in 2000, and Staples also faced the deteriorating health of her sister Cleo, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She continued to work periodically on the Pops Staples album, which was slated for release in 2005.

Chicago songwriter Joe Tullio, who lost two friends in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, asked Staples to perform "In Times Like These," a song he had written about the event. The request resonated with Staples's own feelings. "I wanted to sing songs that would be uplifting and healing," she told Keith Spera of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "We're living in troubled times. So many people are living in fear." The result was the album Have a Little Faith, financed and mostly co-written by Staples herself. Staples's sister Yvonne was drafted to sing harmony, for Staples said that she still listened for her sister Cleo's voice when she sang. After shopping the project to various companies, Staples reached an agreement with the blues-oriented Chicago label Alligator.

Have a Little Faith appeared in 2004; one of its selections, "I Still Believe in You," became the theme song for the successful World Series drive of baseball's Boston Red Sox that year, and Staples was picked to sing "America the Beautiful" at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The album also included "Pops Recipe," a tribute to Pops Staples, and a new version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Staples earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for her duet with Bob Dylan on "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking," and she added three more nominations in 2004 for her contributions to Dr. John's N'awlinz: Dis Dat or D'uddah and to Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster. In 2005 Staples appeared on the Souls' Chapel album by country artist Marty Stuart, itself something of a Staple Singers tribute. She was also featured in director Martin Scorsese's 2005 PBS television documentary on Dylan, No Direction Home. Perhaps more popular than she had ever been, Staples told Jet that "Nobody is going to send me out to pasture. My voice is my gift from God, and I'm going to use it."

Selected discography

Mavis Staples, Volt, 1969.
Only for the Lonely, Stax, 1970.
A Piece of the Action, Curtom, 1977.
Mavis Staples, HDH, 1984.
Time Waits for No One, Paisley Park, 1989.
The Voice, NPG, 1993.
Spirituals & Gospel, Verve, 1996.
Have a Little Faith, Alligator, 2004.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, September 4, 1993, p. 21.

Jet, November 22, 2004, p. 38.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 6, 2004, p. E1.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), January 14, 2005, p. E1.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), September 24, 2004, p. 31.

Toronto Star, December 19, 2004, p. C2.

Washington Post, October 31, 2004, p. N1.

Online

"Mavis Staples," Alligator Records, http://www.alligator.com/artists/bio.cfm?ArtistID=076 (January 24, 2005).

"Mavis Staples," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 24, 2005).

"Mavis Staples," The Rosebud Agency, http://www.rosebudus.com/staples (February 8, 2005).

Mavis Staples Official Website, http://www.mavisstaples.com (February 8, 2005).

"Staple Singers," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=195 (January 24, 2005).

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Staples, Mavis

Mavis Staples

1939(?)

Musician

Best known as the lead vocalist of the Staple Singers, a family soul-gospel ensemble that flourished from the 1950s through the 1970s and beyond, Mavis Staples has also released a series of albums as a solo artist. Her voice, not a gospel power-house, was instantly compelling with its deep-like-a-river quality of moral conviction. Over her long career, Staples won other musicians, including Bob Dylan and Prince as admirers, and her solo work, which had never quite found its course among the shifting winds of musical fashion, won new recognition with the release of her 2004 album, Have a Little Faith. In 2005 Staples was set to accept a Grammy award for lifetime achievement on behalf of the Staple Singers, of whom she was the last surviving original member.

Mavis Staples was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 10, 1939 (or, according to some sources, 1940). Her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, had grown up on Mississippi's Dockery Plantation, a key site in the development of the blues, and had learned to play the guitar from the great early bluesman Charley Patton. After he moved north to Chicago in 1936 he began to organize gospel quartets after finishing work at a meatpacking plant, and it was gospel that Mavis Staples heard at home. "He used to play records by the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Soul Sisters, the Blind Boys of Mississippi as well as the Blind Boys of Alabama, but after I heard [gospel great] Mahalia [Jackson] sing 'Move On Up a Little Higher,' I had to play her music every day," Staples told Greg Quill of the Toronto Star.

Sounded Older Than
15 to Listeners

Pops Staples, dissatisfied with the attendance habits of his group the Trumpet Jubilees, recruited his son Pervis and daughters Mavis, Cleo, and Yvonne to form the Staple Singers around 1948. The first song they learned together was the country classic "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and it would always be among their trademark numbers. The group began performing in Chicago churches and then on a weekly radio program. In 1953 they made a 78 rpm record, "Sit Down Servant," and three years later they scored their first national hit, "Uncloudy Day," after signing with the Chicago blues powerhouse Vee Jay. The Staple Singers stood out not only because of the shimmering electric guitar of Pops Staples, but also because of Mavis's lead vocals. "I was a skinny little knock-kneed girl with a big voice that comes from my mother's side," Staples recalled to Washington Post writer Richard Harrington. "Deejays would announce, 'This is little 15-year-old Mavis singing' and people would say it's gotta either be a man or a big lady. People were betting that I was not a little girl."

Staples considered going to nursing school, but finally chose to stay with the family group; she often told a story of how her father, one of 14 children, would put 14 pencils together to show his own children how hard they were to break as compared with breaking each one individually. In the 1960s, some said, the Staple Singers provided the soundtrack to the civil rights revolution. African-American groups found common cause with white folk performers as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached the gospel of equal rights across the South.

"I really like this man's message and I think if he can preach it, we can sing it," Pops Staples told his children, as Mavis recalled to Harrington in the Washington Post. The Staple Singers performed with the then-acoustic folk musician Bob Dylan and began to record his songs, including the blistering antiwar anthem "Masters of War." Dylan, for his part, had been a Staple Singers fan ever since he heard their recordings on Nashville AM radio powerhouse WLAC as a 12-year-old in Minnesota. A romance sprang up between Dylan and Mavis Staples, although it was not publicly revealed until many years later. Dylan proposed marriage at one point but was turned down even though Pops Staples backed the union. The two remained friends, and Staples later regretted her decision. "It was really too bad," she told Harrington. "I often wonder when I see Bobby's son Jakob, how would our son have looked and how would he have sounded."

Recorded Secular Music for
Stax Labels

Staples made her solo recording debut in 1969 on the Volt imprint of Memphis's Stax label, with the secular Mavis Staples album and its 1970 Stax followup Only for the Lonely. These albums, with compositional contributions from the Stax songwriting staff, had only moderate success, but the Staple Singers, also recording for Stax by that time, reached the peak of their commercial success in the early 1970s. Staples had a hand in composing several of the group's top hits, including the chart-topping and widely familiar "I'll Take You There" (1972)a song that seemed to distill into funky gospel cadences the hopeful atmosphere of the civil rights era. In 1974 the group moved to the Chicago-based Curtom label, headed by soul singer Curtis Mayfield, and the following year they scored another number one hit with "Let's Do It Again."

After recording a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, for Curtom in 1977, Staples made another try at a solo career with the album Mavis Staples. Produced by former Motown songwriters Eddie and Brian Holland along with Stax veteran Steve Cropper, and featuring songwriting contributions from Aretha Franklin's younger sister Carolyn, the album spawned only one single that reached the lower levels of the R&B charts. Delayed for several years, the album tanked after its 1984 release on the HDH label, but it remained a personal favorite for Staples.

By the late 1980s, with no recording contract on the horizon, Staples was living in Chicago and facing tax problems and overdue bills. Things turned around when another fan from the pop world, the funk- and rock-influenced Prince, offered her a seven-year contract on his Minneapolis-based Paisley Park label. When asked how it felt to be working with Prince, Staples often directed the questioner to ask Prince how it felt to be working with Mavis Staples. Prince tailored his songwriting to Staples on the two albums she recorded for him, Time Waits for No One (1989) and The Voice (1993). He avoided the sexual themes of much of his own music, but the albums did not sell well with either youthful urban fans or with the traditional Staple Singers base that was leery of Prince's influence. Still, the two albums earned strongly positive reviews and kept Staples in the public eye, leading to guest slots on 1994's Rhythm, Country & Blues collection and other album releases.

At a Glance

Born on July 10, 1939(?), in Chicago, IL; daughter of Roebuck "Pops" and Oceala Staples; married (divorced).

Career: Staple Singers (family gospel group), member, 1950; solo career, 1969.

Selected awards: "100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll," VH1 cable network; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee (with the Staple Singers), 1999; Grammy Award, for lifetime achievement (with the Staple Singers), 2005.

Addresses: Home Chicago, IL. Agent The Rosebud Agency, P.O. Box 170429, San Francisco, CA 94117.

Prepared Final Staple Singers Album

In 1996 Staples recorded Spirituals & Gospel, a tribute to her idol Mahalia Jackson. She entered the studio in Memphis as producer in 1997 to record a final Pops Staples album. "These were old songs he sang as a boy, and I asked him to record them as simply as possible, just his voice and guitar," Staples told the Toronto Star. "I could add other stuff after his work was done." Pops Staples fell ill that year and died in 2000, and Staples also faced the deteriorating health of her sister Cleo, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She continued to work periodically on the Pops Staples album, which was slated for release in 2005.

Chicago songwriter Joe Tullio, who lost two friends in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, asked Staples to perform "In Times Like These," a song he had written about the event. The request resonated with Staples' own feelings. "I wanted to sing songs that would be uplifting and healing," she told Keith Spera of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "We're living in troubled times. So many people are living in fear." The result was the album Have a Little Faith, financed and mostly co-written by Staples herself. Staples' sister Yvonne was drafted to sing harmony, for Staples said that she still listened for her sister Cleo's voice when she sang. After shopping the project to various companies, Staples reached an agreement with the blues-oriented Chicago label Alligator.

Have a Little Faith appeared in 2004; one of its selections, "I Still Believe in You," became the theme song for the successful World Series drive of baseball's Boston Red Sox that year, and Staples was picked to sing "America the Beautiful" at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The album also included "Pops Recipe," a tribute to Pops Staples, and a new version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Staples earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for her duet with Bob Dylan on "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking," and she added three more in 2004 for her contributions to Dr. John's N'awlinz: Dis Dat or D'uddah and to Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster. Perhaps more popular than she had ever been, Staples told Jet that "Nobody is going to send me out to pasture. My voice is my gift from God, and I'm going to use it."

Selected discography

Albums

Mavis Staples, Volt, 1969.

Only for the Lonely, Stax, 1970.

A Piece of the Action, Curtom, 1977.

Mavis Staples, HDH, 1984.

Time Waits for No One, Paisley Park, 1987.

The Voice, NPG, 1993.

Spirituals & Gospel, Verve, 1996.

Have a Little Faith, Alligator, 2004.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, vol. 13, Gale, 1994.

Periodicals

Billboard, September 4, 1993, p. 21.

Jet, November 22, 2004, p. 38.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 6, 2004, p. E1.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), January 14, 2005, p. E1.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), September 24, 2004, p. 31.

Toronto Star, December 19, 2004, p. C2.

Washington Post, October 31, 2004, p. N1.

On-line

"Mavis Staples," All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com (January 24, 2005).

"Mavis Staples," Alligator Records, www.alligator.com/artists/bio.cfm?ArtistID=076 (January 24, 2005).

Mavis Staples, www.mavisstaples.com (February 8, 2005).

"Mavis Staples," The Rosebud Agency, www.rosebudus.com/staples (February 8, 2005).

"Staple Singers," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=195 (January 24, 2005).

James M. Manheim

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"Staples, Mavis." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Staples, Mavis

Mavis Staples

Singer

Collaboration Caused Controversy

Songs Come From the Heart

Blended Styles to Fit Unique Voice

Selected discography

Sources

Mavis Staples told USA Today contributor James T. Jones that the Lord sent pop star Prince to her. It was in 1987 when her father, Roebuck Pops Staples, called to say that Prince wanted to talk to her. What prince?, she asked. That one they call purple, he answered. A longtime fan of the Staples SingersMavis Stapless family band, in which Mavis sang with Pops, sisters Yvonne and Cleo, and brother PervisPrince acted as a knight in shining armor to Staples, whose career had been static for a decade.

Troubled with taxes and unpaid bills, she had been reduced to selling her car for cash. Then Prince, who later changed his named to an unpronouncable symbol, offered her a seven-year contract on Paisley Park Records, and Stapless hometown of Chicago began to feel like a fairy-tale land.

Stapless musical life began when her father turned his family into a gospel band. They sang message songs throughout the southern United States, inspired by the words of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.; Pops is widely quoted as having said, Listen, if this man can preach this, then we can sing it. As Amy Linden put it in People, Mavis Staples still sings with a soaring, liberating power that can make you feel the intensity of a Sunday service.

Staples revealed to Leonard Pitts, Jr., in Musician that during her familys hardest times, she remained optimistic by repeating to herself: Jesus, this is my gift, this voice youve given me. I dont even know what key I sing in. And youre not keeping me to suffer. Youre keeping me for a reason. Her father apparently agreed. When the familys career seemed to hit a dead end, Pops told her, Mavis, you better go on and try to find a label. The Lord gifted you with your voice and if you dont use it hell take it back.

Collaboration Caused Controversy

Princes interest in Stapless career seemed like a godsend. But because of her deep religious convictions and political commitment, Stapless union with the controversial singer-songwriter miffed and confused a number of her listeners. Alf Billingham of Melody Maker reported Stapless amused response: I was told that I shouldnt be doing stuff with Prince because of his reputation for writing suggestive lyrics. Who do they think I am? The Singing Nun? Staples does not fear Princes exhibitionist sexuality. She considers it a healthy sign of his youth and notes that he does not impose it on the music he writes for her. Prince has produced two albums for Staples: Time Waits for No One in 1989 and The Voice in 1993.

For the Record

Born in 1940 in Chicago, IL; daughter of Roebuck Pops (a singer, blues guitarist, and steel mill worker) and Oceloa Staples; divorced.

Family gospel music act evolved into the Staple Singers, 1951; group recorded for United, 1954; signed with Vee Jay label, 1956; single Uncloudy Day reached Number One on the gospel charts; signed with CBS/Epic, 1964, Stax, 1968, and Curtom, 1975; released solo single, I Have Learned to Do Without You, and solo album Only for the Lonely, Stax, 1970; first solo critical success, Time Waits for No One, produced by Princes label Paisley Park, 1989; opened for Princes overseas tour, 1990; released The Voice, Paisley Park, 1993, also produced and co-written by Prince. Provided backup vocals for Ray Charles, Kenny Loggins, Marty Stuart, and others; sang Ill Take You There, with BeBe and CeCe Winans, which went to Number One on gospel and R&B charts, 1993.

Addresses: Record company Paisley Park Records, 1999 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 3150, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

While Tom Moon, writing in Details, found that Time Waits for No One failed to challenge [Stapless] sassy-to-scornful vocal range, other music critics found it an intriguing and remarkable blend of the pairs distinct talents. Simon Reynolds wrote in Melody Maker, This record is a miniature triumph of futuristic R&B, old school meets techno-chic; the title song, he commented, is the killer: a 21st Century cathedral of a ballad, with an epic fade of soul mama throes and Hendrix squeals n sobs. Phyl Garland, writing in Stereo Review, found Staples and Prince the perfect complements: The result points up [Princes] very real affinity for rhythm-and-blues while underscoring the close relationship between traditional and contemporary black popular music: the best of yesterday and today meet on the common ground of musical excellence.

Certainly Prince has been the major force in Stapless careers renaissance, and she is nothing but appreciativebut the singer also knows her own talents. According to Pitts, Staples is forever besieged by inquiries about how it feels to work with Prince; the music veteran is savvy enough to respond, Well, how does Prince feel working with me? Pitts pointed out that Staples has been in music longer than Prince has been alive, and that evidence of her talents comes not only from the success of the Staples Singers and from her own solo career, but also from the raiding of her vocal arsenal by such stars as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Prince himself.

Garland assessed that although [her] distinctive, heavy-throated voice and profound expressiveness became a hallmark of the Stapless sound as they fused elements of gospel with rhythm-and-blues to take their place on the cutting edge of the Sixties soul phenomenon, [her] interpretive strength was even more apparent in her occasional solo recordings. Staples has also appeared on albums with Ray Charles, Kenny Loggins, Marty Stuart, and others, and is featured on BeBe and CeCe Winanss hit remake of the Staples Singers song Ill Take You There.

Songs Come From the Heart

On the 1993 album The Voice, Stapless personality is wholly present, thanks in part to Princes songshe wrote or cowrote seven of the albums 12 songswhich Staples feels are about my life, she told Billboards David Nathan. She found Blood Is Thicker Than Time particularly moving. [It] is very special for me. I got so choked up when we were recording it that I had to stop. The song takes me back to my childhood, to those Sunday mornings when I couldnt wait to get to church. The songs about family coming together, and love.

Prince listened very closely to Stapless stories and reminiscences and wrote songs that come as much from her heart as from his. The Undertaker, ultimately about the effects of drugs on the African American community, was inspired by the singers stories about her marriage to an undertaker. But again, Princes main achievement is in spotlighting Staples. Maviss greatest marketing tool is herself, Kathy Busby, product manager at Paisley Park, told Nathan. Wherever she goes, people love her. Lets face it, Michael Eric Dyson wrote in Vibe, Mavis Stapleswhose sensuous, sweet-husky gospel alto is one of pops most distinctive voicescan blow away 95 percent of the competition just by showing up.

Blended Styles to Fit Unique Voice

With The Voice, Staples and Prince produced an album that, in Dysons opinion, makes clear that [Mavis] has finally found a musical and spiritual visionary [in Prince] quirky enough to suit both her demanding voice and her unique brand of message music. Dyson concluded, She and Prince move the style forward by looking backward, raiding a cache of 70s forms from funk and contemporary gospel to jazzy, psychedelic soul. These sounds are wedded to house grooves and even new jack swing, updating her messagesbrother- and sister-hood, self-respect, and mutual lovefor the 90s. A Village Voice contributor noted that it is the rare singer who can anchor Princes often-flighty lyrics in the real world. At the same time, she makes his every call for other-worldly intervention sound justifiedif not urgently necessary.

Mavis Staples, with help from the artist formerly known as Prince, is calling Jesus name againwith the help of a little soul, a little gospel, and a little rap; by example, as she indicated to Billingham in Melody Maker, she wants to make sure that the world of younger musicians remembers to put some humanity into their work.

Selected discography

With the Staples Singers; on Stax, except as noted

Soul Folk in Action, 1968.

Heavy Makes You Happy (She-Na-Boom Boom), 1970.

Respect Yourself, 1970.

Bealtitude: Respect Yourself, 1972.

Be What You Are, 1973.

My Main Man, 1974.

Best of the Staples Singers, 1975.

Lets Do It Again, Curtom, 1975.

Pass It On, Warner Bros., 1976.

Hold on to Your Dream, 20th Century, 1981.

The Turning Point, Private I/CBS, 1984.

Solo recordings

I Have Learned to Do Without You, Volt, 1970.

Only for the Lonely, Stax, 1970.

Time Waits for No One, Paisley Park, 1989.

The Voice, Paisley Park, 1993.

Sources

Billboard, September 8, 1984; September 4, 1993.

Details, October 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, August 27, 1993.

Melody Maker, June 10, 1989; July 22, 1989.

Musician, September 1989.

People, September 13, 1993.

Request, October 1993.

Stereo Review, October 1989.

USA Today, August 24, 1993.

Vibe, October 1993.

Village Voice, November 16, 1993.

Additional information for this sketch was obtained from Paisley Park Records press materials, 1993.

Diane Moroff

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"Staples, Mavis." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Staples, Mavis." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/staples-mavis-0