In 1963, NEA National Heritage Fellow Pops Staples attended a church service led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Afterward, he told his family, "If he can preach it, we can sing it." Thus a remarkable family of gospel and socially conscious soul singers launched their careers, built around Pops's loping guitar riffs and his daughter, Mavis's powerful vocals. The Staple Singers's hits, such as "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There," and "Let's Do It Again," have become standards in the gospel and rhythm and blues repertoire.
More recently, Mavis's collaborations with Prince, Bob Dylan, and Marty Stuart have showcased both her versatility and her strength as a solo artist. Bonnie Raitt wrote in support of Mavis Staples's nomination "...her voice to me is a reminder of how music can herald joyful news and bring people together, of the power and spirit of family, and the persistent energy and soul...Now, when soul-affirming art is so desperately needed, I can think of no better time to celebrate Mavis Staples's voice and her ongoing artistic contributions."
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency
Sample: "Step Into the Light"
Sample: "The Choking Kind"