This is the fourth installment of a new weekday morning post called "Morning music." From The Tribune's Loretta Gillespie: "We are about to make your mornings a little brighter, happier and a whole lot more fun than listening to a lot of bad news! Just see if you don’t catch yourself smilin’ and tapping your foot under your desk as you go about your day humming our good humor music! Let’s get started, y’all!"
Recently I heard a news anchor say that if you listen to Mavis Staples sing everyday you will never be depressed. That’s a profound statement…Mavis Staples is a feel good icon. This song is one of those that just makes you want to burst into song in the Hardee’s breakfast line with everyone watching you singing to the top of your lungs in the car with the windows shut….well, open those windows and let everyone have a ‘feel good ‘ moment this morning! That’s right, spread the love!!!
A family group, The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group. Roebuck "Pops" Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b. 1935), and Mavis (b. 1939). Yvonne (b. 1936) 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 (Come Go with Me)" and "Let's Do It Again," which with one exception ("I'll Take You There") peaked on the Hot 100 within a week from Christmas Day.
During their early career they recorded in an acoustic gospel-folk style with various labels: United Records, Vee-Jay Records (their "Uncloudy Day" and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" were best sellers), Checker Records, Riverside Records, and then Epic Records in 1965. "Uncloudy Day" was an early influence on Bob Dylan, who said of it in 2015, "It was the most mysterious thing I'd ever heard… I'd think about them even at my school desk…Mavis looked to be about the same age as me in her picture (on the cover of "Uncloudy Day")…Her singing just knocked me out…and Mavis was a great singer—deep and mysterious. And even at the young age, I felt that life itself was a mystery." (On the same news show, where Mavis was interviewed, it was revealed that Dylan actually proposed to the young soul singer, who turned him down flat. She went on to say that she’d recently been on stage with Dylan, and they had this exchange…Mavis: "Bobby, it’s good to see you! I haven’t seen you in years! I’ve missed you!” Bob Dylan: “Huh, you could have seen me every day if you’d married me!”)
Al Bell produced the Staples Singers recordings, conducting the rhythm sessions at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
"If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart.
In 1976 they collaborated with The Band for their film The Last Waltz, performing on the song "The Weight" (which The Staple Singers had previously covered on their first Stax album).
In 1999, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, the group was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Mavis Staples has continued to carry on the family tradition and continues to add her vocal talents to both the projects of other artists and her own solo ventures.
Prince brought Staples out of semi-retirement at the height of his fame in the 80s, writing two solo albums for her; she called him her son. But it is David Bowie that she credits with being an ultimate gentleman and musician.
Mavis appeared at Glastonbury in 2015.
More recently, Mavis Staples was a guest singer at the Emmylou Harris Tribute Concert, a two-hour film that also includes Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, and Emmylou Harris herself, titled, "The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris; An All-star Concert Celebration."
Image: The Los Angeles Times