Mavis Staples


Southern Soul,Southern Gospel,Neo-Soul

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Mavis Staples began her career with her family's group, The Staples Singers, in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, The Staples Singers scored a hit in 1956 with "Uncloudy Day" for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis Staples graduated from high school in 1957, The Staples Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck "Pops" Staples on guitar and including the voices of Mavis Staples and her siblings Cleo, Yvonne, and Pervis, The Staples Singers were called "God's Greatest Hitmakers."

With Mavis Staples' voice and Pops' songs, singing, and guitar playing, The Staples Singers evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on United and Riverside as well as Vee-Jay) to become the most spectacular and influential spirituality-based group in America. By the mid-1960s The Staple Singers, inspired by Pops' close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. They covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and a version of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth."

Mavis Staples made her first solo foray while at Epic Records with The Staples Singers releasing a lone single "Crying in the Chapel" to little fanfare in the late 1960s.  The single was finally re-released on the 1994 Sony Music collection Lost Soul. Her first solo album would not come until a 1969 self-titled release for the Stax label. After another Stax release, Only for the Lonely, in 1970, she released a soundtrack album, A Piece of the Action, on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label.  A 1984 album, Mavis Staples,  preceded two albums under the direction of rock star Prince; 1989's Time Waits for No One, followed by 1993's The Voice, which People magazine named one of the Top Ten Albums of 1993.

Her 1996 release, Spirituals & Gospels: A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson was recorded with keyboardist Lucky Peterson. The recording honours Mahalia Jackson, a close family friend and a significant influence on Mavis Staples' life.

Mavis Staples made a major national return with the release of the album Have a Little Faith on Chicago's Alligator Records, produced by Jim Tullio, in 2004. The album featured spiritual music, some of it semi-acoustic.

In 2004, Staples contributed to a Verve release by legendary jazz/rock guitarist, John Scofield. The album entitled, That's What I Say, was a tribute to the great Ray Charles, and led to a live tour featuring Mavis Staples, John Scofield, pianist Gary Versace, drummer Steve Hass, and bassist Rueben Rodriguez.

We'll Never Turn Back was released on April 24, 2007. The Ry Cooder-produced concept album focuses on Gospel songs of the civil rights movement and also included two new original songs by Cooder.

Mavis Staples has recorded with a wide variety of musicians, from her friend Bob Dylan (with whom she was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award in the "Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals" category for their duet on "Gotta Change My Way of Thinking" from the album Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan) to The Band, Ray Charles, Nona Hendryx, George Jones, Natalie Merchant, Ann Peebles, and Delbert McClinton.

On June 23, 2008 at Chicago's legendary roots club The Hideout, Mavis Staples played with a stripped down, raw, and swampy three-piece band and just a handful of backup singers. Mavis Staples Live: Hope At The Hideout provides a rare opportunity for fans to get close to a figure who has led a five-decade long musical charge towards equality.

With her bold 2010 release, You Are Not Alone, the legendary vocalist adds a remarkable new chapter to an historic career. It stakes out surprising new territory for Mavis Staples by matching her with producer Jeff Tweedy, a fellow Chicagoan who also happens to lead Wilco, perhaps the most respected band working in America today. You Are Not Alone caps an incredible decade for Mavis Staples, a resurgence that saw her receive Grammy nominations in blues, gospel, folk, and pop categories. She claims, in fact, that she has done so much diverse work recently that, until Jeff Tweedy helped guide the way, she wasn’t sure of her direction.

“After the We’ll Never Turn Back CD, I didn’t know which way to turn,” she says. “Did I want to do a country record, a gospel record, or what? So I needed a sound like this—something that fit my message, but flowed in a different direction from where I would normally take a song so it wasn’t just the same old same old."

Mavis Staples is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. VH1 named her one of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and Rolling Stone listed her as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Listen to Christian Music Artist Mavis Staples


Album Title Year Label
Mavis Staples1969Stax Records
Only for the Lonely1970Stax Records
A Piece of The Action1977Curtom
Mavis Staples1984HDH
Time Waits for No One1989Warner Brothers
Don't Change Me Now1990Stax Records
The Voice1993Slash
Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson1996Verve
Have a Little Faith2004Alligator Records
We'll Never Turn Back2007Anti Records
Live: Hope At The Hideout2008Anti Records
You Are Not Alone2010Anti Records





United States

Record Label:

Anti Records

Christian Label:


Years Active: