The powerful, gospel-drenched voice of Mavis Staples conjures up an encyclopedic array of gritty howls, soulful moans, striking melismas, urgent whispers, and fervent cries that originate in the depths of her soul. They're also fueled by a lifetime of singing songs that have provided hope and inspiration to those engaged in fundamental struggles for freedom and justice. Specifically the Civil Rights Movement, which played out to a soundtrack in significant part supplied by her family group, the Staple Singers. Pops Staples led his family in marching right alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and later up the charts with hits such as "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Again in troubled times, Mavis has revisited much of the civil-rights era material--both traditional and songs written at the time by Pops--on last year's stirring, Ry Cooder-produced We'll Never Turn Back and now on a rousing live album, Hope At The Hideout (both Anti-). The latter will be released on November 4, when a good deal of that hope rests on the election of a fellow Chicagoan who Staples has said reminds her of Dr. King. Recorded at a Chicago club last July, Hope finds Mavis's voice in splendid form, while her band plays it lean and mean, especially guitarist Rick Holmstrom. Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" kicks off a set punctuated with nuggets like "Eyes on the Prize" and "Freedom Highway," which at 69 Mavis still plies with style.
Mon., Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m., 2008