The most underrated diva of the century...she has an almost superhuman ability to implant the pure power of emotion."
-- Rolling Stone
Gospel / soul legend Mavis Staples, whose 2004 Alligator Records CD Have a Little Faith has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the best of her career, will bring her deeply soulful and inspirational music to Princeton for a live performance. Over the years, Mavis has recorded with a wide variety of musicians, from her close friend Bob Dylan to The Band, Ray Charles, Nona Hendryx, George Jones, Natalie Merchant, Ann Peebles, Delbert McClinton and many others. She provides vocals on albums by Los Lobos and Dr. John, and she appears on tribute albums to Johnny Paycheck, Stephen Foster, Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. In addition, Mavis -- along with The Staple Singers -- appears in the concert films Wattstax and Soul To Soul. She also sings in the concert film Lightning In A Bottle and is one of the interview subjects in the Martin Scorcese Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home. Mavis picked up four 2005 Blues Music Awards for Have a Little Faith: Blues Album of the Year," Blues Song of the Year ("Have A Little Faith")," Soul Blues Album of the Year" and Soul / Blues--Female Artist of the Year." Mavis also appeared live at the 2004 Grammy telecast with Kanye West and John Legend, and sang on both Late Night With Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Performance information is as follows:
Thursday, March 9th: McCarter Theatre
91 University Place Princeton, NJ
8:00 p.m. $37 - $50
Also appearing will be Taj Mahal.
Have a Little Faith is a stirring collection of uplifting songs deeply seated in Staples' faith and spirituality. Produced by Jim Tullio and Staples, the album features the strongest collection of material - both originals and interpretations - Mavis has ever assembled. This is Mavis' first full album of fresh material since the Prince-produced The Voice in 1993. Mavis' last recording was a 1996 Mahalia Jackson tribute album.
Possessing one of the most recognizable voices in contemporary music, Mavis Staples (along with her family group, The Staple Singers) is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is included on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll. Staples - both on her own and as a member of The Staple Singers - is responsible for blazing a rhythm & blues trail while never relinquishing her gospel roots. Appearances alongside everyone from musicians Janis Joplin, Mahalia Jackson, Santana and Aretha Franklin and recording sessions with Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Bonnie Raitt, and Emmylou Harris to political figures including the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. barely scratch the surface of her accomplishments.
Born in Chicago in 1939, Mavis began her career with her family group, The Staple Singers, in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a gigantic hit in 1956 with Uncloudy Day" for the VeeJay label. Upon Mavis' high school graduation in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road. Led by family patriarch Roebuck Pops" Staples and including Mavis and siblings Cleo, Yvonne and Pervis, the Staples were often referred to as God's Greatest Hitmakers."
With prodding from Mavis, the Staples evolved from enormously popular gospel singers (with recordings on United, Riverside and VeeJay) to become the most spectacular and influential spiritually-based group in America. By the mid-1960's The Staple Singers, inspired by their close friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement (according to Pops, If Dr. King could preach it, we can sing it.").
The Staple Singers covered contemporary pop hits with positive messages, including many Bob Dylan songs and a version of Stephen Stills' For What It's Worth." The Staples sang message" songs like Long Walk To D.C." and When Will We Be Paid?," bringing their moving and articulate music to an enormous number of young people. The group signed to Stax Records in 1968, joining together their gospel harmonies and deep faith with musical accompaniment from members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The Staple Singers hit the Top 40 eight times between 1971 and 1975, including two #1 singles: I'll Take You There" and Let's Do It Again." Now a long ways from their early roots as a pure gospel group, The Staple Singers were bona fide pop stars.
Mavis Staples recorded her first solo album for the famed Stax label in 1969. 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 (also self-titled) preceded two albums under the direction of rock megastar Prince: 1989's Time Waits For No One, followed by 1993's The Voice. Her most recent release, 1996's Spirituals & Gospel: A Tribute To Mahalia Jackson, is a moving song cycle honoring Jackson, a very close family friend.
During her career Staples has appeared in many films and television shows, including The Last Waltz, Graffiti Bridge, Wattstax, New York Undercover, Soul Train, and The Cosby Show. Her music has been sampled by some of the biggest selling hip-hop artists, including Salt 'N' Pepa, Ice Cube and Ludacris.
Now, with Have a Little Faith, Mavis Staples builds on a family tradition of joining gospel fervor with shades of soul and R&B. Her importance in both the music world and as a driving force of social change makes her a true icon -- an artist who continues to create music that will inspire a whole new generation of people to have faith in the healing and uplifting power of her remarkable gift.