Mavis Staples enlists Ben Harper

The queen of gospel and soul releases an album written entirely by the Californian bluesman...

By Marc Zisman | Video of the Day | May 24, 2019

There really is no stopping Mavis Staples. Since she was signed by the label ANTI, the Queen of gospel and soul who celebrated her 80th birthday in 2019, has been releasing a series of perfect albums. “It’s kind of unbelievable to me that I’m still recording. I never thought I would still be singing at my age, and people seem to really want to hear me, they know me, they give me love – I’m just overwhelmed, really. I thank God every night before I go to bed and then again every morning for waking up.” Meanwhile, Trump’s America is a source of inspiration and powerful fuel for this voice that sings about God, love and above all the injustices and evils of everyday life.

Still just as engaged as the glory days of the Staple Singers led by her father Pops Staples, in which they released the definitive soundtrack of the civil rights movement, here she releases a raw, honest, spiritual and devastatingly powerful record. With We Get By, Mavis Staples puts her collaboration with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on standby to work exclusively with Ben Harper, who wrote the eleven songs and lends his voice to the titular track. The Californian had already written Love and Trust for Staples’ album Livin’ on a High Note, but this time he unleashes all the firepower of his stripped-back guitars, bluesy melodies and prose that spoke of love, faith, justice, fraternity and joy while America suffered deep social divisions and was subjected to violent political tensions. It was left to Mavis Staples to take this wonderful material and, as usual, turn it into something sublime. The fight continues.


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