Mavis Staples performs at Newport Folk Festival.
Mavis Staples performs at Newport Folk Festival. Wiqan Ang
The former lead singer of The Staple Singers and a major voice of the civil rights movement, Mavis Staples has spent her career navigating the worlds of blues, gospel, pop, soul and political folk, mapping where they overlap and drawing unexpected links where they diverge. Staples says that as a youth, she was chided for singing too much like a boy, but her low voice has become her trademark. Rough-hewn, fiery and defiant, it's taken her places: In her youth, she performed for Martin Luther King Jr., while Bob Dylan reportedly asked for her hand in marriage and Barack Obama used her hit "I'll Take You There" at campaign events in 2008.
Staples' most recent studio record, We'll Never Turn Back, was produced by Ry Cooder and features some of the most explicitly political songwriting in a career that has seen no shortage of activism. In 2008, Staples released Live: Hope at the Hideout, an album of covers, traditional songs and originals (mostly drawn from We'll Never Turn Back), recorded on a Monday night at Chicago's Hideout.
"For What It's Worth"
"Eyes on the Prize"
"Too Close to Heaven"
"Wade in the Water"
"Waiting for My Child to Come Home"
"Why Am I Treated So Bad"
"I'll Take You There"