It is hard to believe Mavis Staples has been on stages around the globe for more than 70 years. Whether it is gospel, R&B or blues, that unmistakable raspy voice delivers messages we need to hear. Staples performs February 21-23 at The Barns at Wolf Trap in a set that should please all generations.
“Mavis has been a performer at our main Filene Center stage a few times,” said Sara Beesley, vice president – Program & Production at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. “These are her first solo shows in our historic, intimate Barns venue.”
What Makes a Legend
Staples has never stopped performing since she began singing with her family, The Staple Singers, in 1950. The family group consisted of patriarch Roebuck “Pops” Staples on guitar, Mavis and Cleotha, Yvonne and Pervis. Performing gospel at churches in their hometown of Chicago, the group’s spirit-filled songs were a call for decency and equal treatment. “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” are hits with messages that are still relevant today. Now that the group no longer exists, Staples continues to give her voice at gatherings that advocate for justice.
Fans of The Staple Singers recently saw them in the documentary “Summer of Soul,” released last year. Produced by The Roots co-founder Amir-Khalib “Questlove” Thompson, the documentary just received an Oscar nomination for “Best Documentary Feature.” The 1969 movie about the Harlem Cultural Festival airs on February 20 on ABC television.
Respected by Young Musicians
Fellow performers know the power and influence of Staples’ voice. In recent years, she has collaborated with composers and singers who are her peers and those who are decades younger. One of her most famous collaborations was with Prince. Staples recorded two albums for his Paisley Park label.
“She has previously shared the Wolf Trap Filene Center stage with Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Bob Dylan, and Joe Jackson,” said Beesley. “Her recent collaborations with Ben Harper, Hozier, and Wilco, are a testament to her power as a performer.”
The Struggle Continues
Staples is a 2016 Kennedy Center Honors recipient and a 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with The Staple Singers. The powerhouse performer, who turns 83 years old in July, has understood her life’s calling to speak and sing about freedom and peace. She is a civil rights icon and still recruits others to join her mission.
“I’m the messenger. That’s my job; it has been for my whole life. I can’t just give up while the struggle’s still alive,” She said when approaching her 80th birthday. “We’ve got more work to do, so I’m going to keep on getting stronger and keep on delivering my message every single day.”
Mavis Staples is at The Barns at Wolf Trap, February 21-23. For ticket information, visit https://www.wolftrap.org
The Washington Informer
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