It’s an electrifying time for Mavis Staples. Her much anticipated new album Livin' On A High Note has just been released to critical raves, she picked up her second Grammy Award earlier this week and a feature-length documentary on her life is poised to premiere on HBO on February 29.
The New York Times recently called Staples’ late-career creative output an “extraordinary productive streak” that reaffirms her “lifelong messages — faith, family, freedom, honesty, perseverance — as she both reaches back to the sound of the Staple Singers and tries some new twists.” Rolling Stone writes, “Staples says she's entering a new chapter. The proof comes in the form of High Note. While the material on Livin' on a High Note draws on the personal and spiritual, there are a few tracks that harken back to the Staple Singers' protest songs.”
In the last few weeks Staples has been profiled by The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, Guardian, USA Today, Playboy, Newsweek, Paste, The Wall St. Journal and many more, all heralding a mix of spirituality, musicality and vitality that makes Staples a unique and transcendent figure in American music.
On the M. Ward-produced Livin' on a High Note, Staples performs an assortment of songs written for just for her by some of today’s greatest songwriters including Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, Neko Case, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Benjamin Booker, Aloe Blacc and others. As Newsweek writes, “she always followed the lead of her musician father, Pops, in her long career by staying open to change.”
“I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new,” says Mavis. “I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up.”
Early Acclaim For Livin’ On A High Note
"It takes some chances while bringing out the pleasure and righteousness of her singing.” - New York Times
"Mavis Staples takes her comeback higher still here.” - Rolling Stone
“Her voice has lost none of its ecstatic expressiveness…She can still swing low into a baritone range, and she can still soar into a churchly higher register. But really it’s the way she shapes her words that makes these songs so distinctive: The way she fawns over a word like "darling" makes you want to wrap the syllables around you like a warm blanket.” - Pitchfork
“This fine album reached way beyond the church” - Q
"After more than six decades in the spotlight, Mavis Staples is still one of music’s most soul-stirring voices.” - Garden and Gun
“The album feels stunningly fresh and cutting edge; expect to see it on some Top Ten lists later this year.” Boston Globe