Mavis Staples is a prolific American gospel/rhythm and blues singer, actress and civil rights actress. She was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1939, and began singing with family ensemble The Staple Singers in 1950, initially singing in local churches and appearing on a weekly radio show but eventually becoming household names. Thanks to a close friendship between her father and Martin Luther King Jr., The Staple Singers became deeply associated with the American civil rights movements. They released many songs with messages of solidarity in their iconic gospel style on Stax Records during the 1960s and 1970s.
Mavis launched her solo career with an eponymous debut album in 1969, also on Stax Records, and since then has released 14 studio albums under own name including ‘Time Waits for No One’ (1989), produced by Prince, and ‘You Are Not Alone’ (2010) and ‘One True Vine’ (2013), both produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Her most recent release ‘Livin’ on a High Note’ (2016) features songs written specifically for her by artists including Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, tUnE-yArds, Neko Case, Benjamin Booker and Aloe Blacc.
She won a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Americana Album, and holds honorary doctorate degrees and Berklee College of Music and Columbia College Chicago. She has collaborated with dozens of artists across a diverse spectrum of soul, jazz, blues, rock and country including Bob Dylan, with whom she was nominated for a Grammy Award, John Scofield, The Band, Ray Charles, Party Griffin and Arcade Fire.