Mavis Still Takes You There

At eighty-two, Staples asked God why she was still alive. “The only reason I could see is to sing my songs,” she said.Photograph by Paola Kudacki for The New Yorker

In the New Yorker, David Remnick recounts the time he spent with Mavis Staples in her Chicago home base.

At 82, she shares her history as a part of a family band that brought gospel to the masses and emerged as an important voice in the civil rights movement.

As an early teen, I was introduced to The Staple Singers’ and their song “I’ll Take You There” on Soul Train. At the weekly post-show Teen Center visit, the song was on heavy rotation as well as the politically charged “Respect Yourself. “

I was lucky enough to see her open for Bonnie Raitt a few years ago. As a regular touring partner, Raitt says, “She’s never cranky. She has an abiding belief in God and His plan and believes the world is moving toward a higher and more loving world.”