Mavis Staples

Not only can Mavis Staples stir your soul with the sheer brilliance of her industrial-strength, gospel-soaked vocals—crying and moaning and testifying with unbridled fervor—much of her core material alone is capable of sending chills down your spine. That's because it originated on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, where her family group, the Staple Singers, marched right along with those spearheading the struggle for freedom. Led by Mavis's father, Pops, the Staple Singers later climbed the charts with indelible nuggets like "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Mavis subsequently struggled a little to find a foothold in contemporary music, including a brief association with Graffiti Bridge-era Prince, but found herself hitting it big time with a tribute to Mahalia Jackson and revisiting the Civil Rights material on her last two releases, the Ry Cooder-produced We'll Never Turn Back and 2008's live Hope at the Hideout (both Anti-). Hearing her perform songs like "Eyes on the Prize" and J.B. Lenoir's "Down in Mississippi" is simply a matchless experience. (Photo by Chris Strong)
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 3. Continues through Feb. 4, 2010

 
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