S is for the Staple Singers

This century, Mavis Staples, who was the primary voice on so many of the Staple Singers’ songs, has been putting out several well-received albums.

Staple-SingersA major competitor of Motown serving up black music in the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s was STAX Records, which I wrote about extensively HERE.

One of the great groups on the label was The Staple Singers, “an American gospel, soul, and R&B singing group. Roebuck “Pops” Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b. 1935), Yvonne (b. 1936), and Mavis (b. 1939)… While the family surname is ‘Staples’, the group used the singular form for its name, ‘The Staple Singers’.”

They had appeared on other labels before joining STAX, releasing songs such as For What It’s Worth [LISTEN], a cover of the Buffalo Springfield hit, that went to #66 in 1967 on Epic Records.

When Will We Be Paid (1970 – a description of the song HERE)
Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha Na Boom Boom) (#27 in 1971)
Respect Yourself (#12 in 1971) – my favorite song of theirs
I’ll Take You There (#1 in 1972) – my second favorite
If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me) (#9 in 1973)
Let’s Do It Again (#1 in 1975) – their big hit on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label, after STAX’s demise
The Weight, with The Band, from the 1976 movie The Last Waltz

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

This century, Mavis Staples, who was the primary voice on so many of the group’s songs, has been putting out several well-received albums. The first one I picked up was 2007’s We’ll Never Turn Back. “Produced by roots rock and blues musician Ry Cooder, it is a concept album with lyrical themes relating to the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Upon its release, We’ll Never Turn Back received positive reviews from most music critics. It was also named one of the best albums of 2007 by several music writers and publications.”

99 and 1/2
I’ll Be Rested

“During a December 20, 2008 appearance on National Public Radio’s news show ‘Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me,’ when Staples was asked about her past personal relationship with [Bob] Dylan, she admitted they ‘were good friends, yes indeed’ and that he had asked her father for her hand in marriage.” She ultimately said no, because the interracial relationship would have been too difficult back in that period.

Finally, LISTEN to a live version of Wrote a song for everyone, a tune from her 2010 album You Are Not Alone. That album was produced by Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

22 thoughts on “S is for the Staple Singers”

  1. Not that it matters, but, I bought both “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” on iTunes because they were my favourite of their tracks. BUT, I liked “I’ll Take You There” more…

  2. Love these lyrics:
    If you don’t respect yourself
    Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na

  3. It is one of the best things in life if you can play music and sing together as a family. It must be great fun! Thanks for your post!
    Have a great week.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  4. LOVED the selections!!!! This was such a great idea for this round (although truth be told, all your posts are so well done).

    Thanks for the sounds and have a great week.

  5. Wow! I’d never heard of them before. Great songs!

    abcw team

  6. I love how you remind us of good music from the past. “I’ll Take You There” is my favorite of this group.

  7. A staple, post for the letter. I have discovered through abc, you know your music, and it’s an eclectic mix.

  8. Way before my time but have heard a few of them which I still listen to occasionally. Have always been fond of old musics both English and Hindi

    PhenoMenon, ABCW

  9. Not known widely in the UK but I did have a listen and they’re really very good…so much talent in the world and not enough time to listen..
    I rather liked ‘I’ll take you there’.

    will flash back to listen to some more,

    Best wishes,

  10. I`ve never heard these songs before. But I was curious and I checked out a couple of your suggestions. They souns really good 🙂

  11. Those gospel roots shine through. I like how Ry Cooder has given the 2007 album sort of Stax influence. Powerful songs.

  12. I listened to some of their songs on YouTube and couldn’t figure out why they sounded vaguely familiar, but not familiar enough. Then I noticed they were early 1970s. I don’t remember much from the early 70s.
    Love their sound, though, Rog. Thanks for the introduction!

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