Mavis Staples Reflects On A Life Of Activism, Music & Collaboration In New Interview
Photo by Chris Strong for Garden & Gun
Hard to believe that the world has been blessed by Mavis Staples for roughly seven decades now. But no matter which segment of her career you hone in one, her muscular and spiritual voice is a constant, cementing Staples as one of the single greatest vocalists of our time. A new documentary will explore precisely how she reached that throne, but before the big or little screens tell that story, Mavis sat down with Garden & Gun to discuss her life of activism, music and the countless artists within her ranks that she's worked with and influenced, even dishing-out a few juicy details on how she once turned down a marriage proposal from Bob Dylan. Read a snippet from the interview below along with her forthcoming tour dates and hold tight for the documentary Mavis!, which is currently screening in select theaters with an HBO premiere slated for 2016.
Meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. :
"We happened to be in Montgomery one Sunday morning and my father wanted to go to Dr. King’s church. Afterward, he told us, “If he can preach it, we can sing it.” Soon, we started singing our freedom songs, like “Freedom Highway” and “Why (Am I Treated So Bad),” before Dr. King spoke at the meetings. He was a great man, and that is a part of my life that I will cherish forever."
On her reluctance to sign-off on the documentary:
"For a long time the Staple Singers didn’t get the recognition we deserved because we sang gospel songs. We weren’t singing like Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin—Mavis wasn’t singingthose kind of songs. When Jessica Edwards [the filmmaker] called to tell me that HBO had picked up the documentary, I was just excited for people to see it. Truthfully, in the beginning I didn’t really want to do the film. I had gotten sick of telling people my story. But Jessica convinced me, and I’m so happy I agreed. I’m seventy-six years old, carrying on my family’s tradition. And I’m not tired yet. Mavis is still here."
Jan 29, 2016 @ Paramount Theatre - Rutland, VT
Jan 30, 2016 @ Corning Museum of Glass - Corning, NY
Mar 04, 2016 @ Kessler Theater - Dallas, TX
Mar 05, 2016 @ Kessler Theater - Dallas, TX
Mar 08, 2016 @ Tobin Center for the Performing Arts - San Antonio, TX
Mar 10, 2016 @ Holland Performing Arts Center - Omaha, NE
Mar 12, 2016 @ Walton Arts Center - Fayetteville, AR
Mar 13, 2016 @ Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts - Kansas City, MO
Apr 08, 2016 @ Berks Jazz Fest - Reading, PA
May 06, 2016 @ Kravis Center - West Palm Beach, FL