50 Years Later, Mavis Still Hopeful for Change as her Life's Work Moves from the Streets to the Polls
Mavis Staples, the first lady of resistance, is set to release Mavis Staples Live: Hope At The Hideout on November 4th of this year. Fitting that Mavis' record should come out the same day that one of the most momentous elections in U.S history will be decided, as her dedication to social justice and freedom spans over 40 years of modern history; first as lead singer of the Staples Singers, where her voice became the living soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement , continuing through to 2007 when she won a Free Speech award created to honor artists that have incited discussion and worked against the status quo through their music and their actions.
With the election season kicking into high gear with the Democratic National Convention in Denver CO this week and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis MN next, Mavis is releasing the first track off Hope At the Hideout today. Entitled "We Shall Not Be Moved," the song is a soulful rendition of a classic freedom song. While the song, which includes lines like "we're fighting for our children / we shall not be moved," could be the theme song for either of the current political campaigns, Mavis puts it squarely into context during an instrumental break-down in the middle of the song. In the South in the 1960s, Mavis drawls, just trying to have a meal in a restaurant was in itself an act of civil disobedience, and when she and her fellow marchers would be forcibly ejected by the police, they sang "We Shall Not Be Moved." By the end of the song, we get a real sense of where this amazing figure has been, and how much we have to learn from her. "We Shall Not Be Moved" is available for streaming or download on the Anti label blog.
Mavis has deep roots in this election. She and Barack Obama attended the same church in their shared hometown of Chicago. Obama, the man Mavis has called "in a way, so much like Dr. King" -and she would know, for Mavis and her family worked side by side with Dr. King fighting for civil rights - will deliver his highly-anticipated speech to the DNC on Thursday, the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Congressman John Lewis, who figured prominently in last night's moving tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, wrote the liner notes to Mavis' last record We'll Never Turn Back. But her connection goes deeper than personal relationships. In a year where "hope" and "change" are buzzwords of the day, Mavis Staples Live: Hope at the Hideout highlights how those two words are aspirations she has lived her life striving for.