Mavis Staples, who marched and sang and protested alongside Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's, saw her steadfast dedication to equality and unwavering sense of hope validated on Tuesday. She writes:
"To come up in a time when there was slavery, racism, the KKK, and Jim Crow, I'm just so grateful to still be here to enjoy this historical time in our lives. It is so surreal, so completely overwhelming.
This young black man has inspired and brought the country together. There's something about him that makes me feel he is the chosen one. There's something about his leadership that makes people feel calm and safe. He has inspired hopes and dreams of all people - black, white, brown or yellow. Doctor King and Pops I just know are so happy. "The Dream" is alive."
Staples' new record - Mavis Staples Live: Hope At The Hideout, which also came out on Tuesday - takes on a whole new significance in the wake of this historic win for equal rights. Recorded in June in an intimate bar in her hometown of Chicago, the record is filled with freedom songs like "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Down In Mississippi," gospel classics like "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," and her biggest hit, "I'll Take You There." Since the record was recorded in the uncertainty of the run-up to the election, it could, on one hand, be taken as another token to the struggle that Staples has devoted her career, and life, to. Yet in the wake of Tuesday's decision, the songs are suddenly a testament to the uplifting hope and certainty of success that has marked Staples' work over the past 50+ years.
In addition to her work in the trenches, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is also no stranger to political celebrations. Staples has performed at inaugural events for John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Early Praise for Mavis Staples Live: Hope At The Hideout:
- "She sat in at lunch counters and marched with King to protest segregation in America in the 1960s. Now Mavis' marvelous new Live: Hope at the Hideout revisits that era with personal recollections and brilliantly evoked songs from (or recast for) the movement... if this concert doesn't get your heart pumping, check your pulse." -Philadelphia Daily News
- "Blistering...remarkable." -Time Out Chicago
- "Her voice's laryngitic burr is extraordinarily potent for a 69-year old, and there's a frisson of hope discernible on the delivery of a song like "Eyes On The Prize," a civil rights rallying-cry lent fresh pertinence by Barack Obama's campaign for the US presidency." ***** -The Independent UK
- "Simply magnificent." -Detroit Free Press
- "Staples - even at 69 - is a geyser of ferocity and depth...her energy is gobsmacking. Following a raucous rendition of "Freedom Highway", which the three-piece band plays as a runaway bus on a rural road, culminating in much cymbal smashing and jubilant howls, Staples apologizes, "I get so all up into it. You know, when the spirit hits you, you've got to move!"" -Pitchfork
- "Haunting and relevant." -Blackbook
- "If this music were played in churches this way, they'd all be full...it is at once a celebratory and inspiring recording." -Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
- "She is, and always will be, a powerhouse of soul in all the best musical and spiritual senses of that term. She's singing for the audience, and for Jesus, and for all the pioneers who went before her. She sings a batch of Civil Rights era songs - "Down in Mississippi," "Freedom Highway," "We Shall Not Be Moved" - and she imbues them with a passion and an urgency that reminds us that 2008 really isn't all that far removed from 1963, and that hard-won freedoms can be lost, and are still worth fighting for." -Andy Whitman, Paste