Soul singer Mavis Staples will take you there, no mistake about that.
Known for her vocals on The Staple Singers’ hit “I’ll Take You There,” she showed she still has what it takes to rock a crowd when she headlined a gospel festival in Helena two years ago. She and other family members famously sang “Respect Yourself,” “People Get Ready” and “Why (Am I Treated So Bad),” which was inspired by the Little Rock Nine and their struggles to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Staples is performing this weekend as part of a series of shows at Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Little Rock. Recent shows included concerts by Nedelle Torrisi on Sept. 30 and vocal group Cantus on Tuesday.
Staples is touring to promote her latest album, One True Vine, which was released June 23. Produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, the album follows her Tweedy-produced, Grammy Award-winning 2010 CD You Are Not Alone. He plays on almost every instrument except drums, which are played by his 17-year-old son, Spencer. The album’s first single is a cover of “Can You Get to That,” from the Funkadelic album Maggot Brain. She later made a video of another album track, “I Like the Things About Me,” written by her father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples and originally recorded by The Staple Singers.
Besides her own recording, Staples is one of the all-star female collaborators on the latest Willie Nelson album To All the Girls, released Sept. 24. She duets with Nelson on “Grandma’s Hands.” In July, she was featured on a National Public Radio special “The Mix: Songs Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement,” a commemoration of the 50-year struggle for civil rights. Staples sings “Down in Mississippi,” “Eyes on the Prize” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” and is heard with her father and sisters as The Staple Singers on four tracks, including the hit “I’ll Take You There.”
Earlier this year, she appeared as part of the PBSIn Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul, an all star performance that also featured Steve Cropper, Ben Harper, William Bell, Cyndi Lauper, Alabama Shakes, Sam Moore and Justin Timberlake. In February, she and Zac Brown sang Bruce Springsteen’s “My City of Ruins” at the 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Springsteen. Also in February, she collaborated onstage at the Grammy ceremony in a tribute to Levon Helm with Elton John, Mumford & Sons, T Bone Burnett, Brown and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.
In October 2012, Staples, who had been working with Helm, was one of the artists who performed in a tribute concert, Love for Levon, which aired Valentine’s Day. Her distinctive vocals are heard on the song most associated with Helm, “The Weight” (which she also sang on in The Last Waltz, a movie that chronicled the final performance by his group, The Band).
The 74-year-old, with no plans to slow down, is considering recording a country album and a tribute to Bob Dylan.
Mavis Staples 7:30 p.m. Friday, Christ Episcopal Church sanctuary, East Capitol Avenue and Scott Street, Little Rock $35 general admission pew seating; $30 standing room to the side of the stage (501) 375-2342 christchurchlr.org
Weekend, Pages 37 on 10/10/2013
Print Headline: Mavis Staples to put soul into concert at church