Memorial Hall said it best, “Mavis Staples is living, breathing history.” The Grammy award-winning vocalist is best known for her singles ‘Respect Yourself’ and ‘I’ll Take You There’, but Mavis Staples is far more than a singer. Staples got her start in Chicago at the young age of thirteen where she performed alongside her sisters and father in The Staple Singers. Her musicianship rose to political activism and awareness in the 1960’s at the height of the civil rights movement, when she debuted song after song that promoted freedom and peace. Mavis Staples has both performed alongside and largely inspired artists such as Bob Dylan and Prince. Her trembling, powerhouse voice is incredibly unique, dynamic, and soulful. The Staple Singers began in church, originating from the deep roots of gospel and spiritual beliefs that were ingrained in her upbringing and family. Despite the strong ties to R&B, soul, and gospel music, Mavis Staples has covered nearly every single genre. The legendary artist is said by Memorial Hall “to have crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles,” making her one of the most memorable names in American music history.
A Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame recipient, Staples has released more than fifteen studio albums and eighteen singles alone. Wilco front-man, Jeff Tweedy, has been writing original songs for the singer for more than a decade, but last year Tweedy and Staples released their first album together, If All I Was Was Black. The album is the sixteenth release by Staples, but the first full-length album collaboration between the two artists. Staples said of the work, “It brings us all together as a people [and] that’s what I hope to do, you can’t stop me, you can’t break me, I’m too loving, [and] these songs are going to change the world.” If All I Was Was Black is compiled of ten songs. Jeff Tweedy remarked that the album is a much-needed response to the current times and administration and the lyrics consistently reflect that.
There isn’t much else like witnessing such an influential artist perform these formidable songs live. It is hard to imagine how profound it would feel to truly be in the moment with Mavis. Her might, outspokenness, and wildly vivacious vocals are astounding and to have Staples perform at Memorial Hall in OTR is absolutely historical for the city of Cincinnati. Mavis has given this world an immense amount of optimism with her musical talents. She encourages growth and unity and demands respect with her triumphant words and expression. Mavis Staples’ performance at Memorial Hall on April 20th marks a day sure to go down in Cincinnati history. If you would like to take part in chronicling the momentous night, visit the link below to purchase tickets.
When: April 20th
Where: Memorial Hall OTR
How Much: $55-$80