Mavis Staples is an alchemist of American music, and has continuously crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles. Weaving herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and even hip hop over the better part of the last 60 years, the iconic singer has seen and sung through so many changes, always rising up to meet every road unwaveringly.
Along the way, she has learned from, worked with, and schooled countless legends from all arenas, and has brought her own timeless talent to each and every performance. Who else can claim to have answered the call time and time again, to become a leading voice of not just a generation, but of multiple eras and in myriad manifestations? Who else was there to sell a million gospel records, walk beside Dr. Martin Luther King, to help lead the ‘70s soul-power movement, to sing under the spotlight during The Last Waltz, to serve as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince at the peak of their careers, and to win over 21st-century fans with a trio of deeply spiritual solo albums produced by Ry Cooder (2007’s We’ll Never Turn Back) and by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (2010’s Grammy winning You Are Not Alone and 2013’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated One True Vine)?
With the release of her new album Livin’ On A High Note, she continues to gain momentum. Referencing and drawing from her past while taking the music to fresh places, Mavis and her team recruited a unique dozen of today’s heralded and up-and-coming artists to write songs for the record. The names gathered here impress and excite: Neko Case, Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart, M. Ward—with Ward also tapped to produce the album in full.