On their second collaboration, legendary singer Mavis Staples and Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy have crafted a gospel album for the 21st century, a music that strives for faith in a world where nothing can be taken for granted. On One True Vine, Mavis Staples gives voice to something new in her repertoire, something deeper and more resonant with our times; longtime fans will notice a new reserve in her singing, a muted, plaintive quality that serves the darker, more nuanced songs collected here perfectly.
- If her Stax hits spoke for a growing black social consciousness, and her seventies collaborations with the Band and others gave spiritual weight to the rediscovery of tradional American music, then in our post-millenial drift, Jeff Tweedy has crafted a pulpit from which Mavis lends her voice to a search for grace.
One True Vine is a dark night of the soul, a journey from a search for faith to glorious belief. Starting with Alan Sparhawk from Low’s downtempo “One Holy Ghost” – a song that feels the presence of God without fully comprehending it – and moving through the Jeff Tweedy original “Jesus Wept,” a questioning of the darkness in the world, the album begins in the depths.
Even the perfectly chosen Funkadelic classic “Can You Get to That?,” a high-flying respite in an otherwise subdued first half, is built around a question of the spirit. Then at mid-point, Nick Lowe’s “Far Celestial Shores” picks up the pace, and the album opens up like a parting of the clouds.
The tempo kicks in with a tent-revival throb, and even when things slow for a moment with the greasy funk reworking of the Staple’s “I Like the Things About Me,” it’s a second half of light and redemption. Closing with the beautiful ballad “One True Vine” (the third of the Tweedy originals), the album ends on a note of salvation, with Mavis cradling the lyric like a prodigal son.
No one should be surprised at this new Mavis Staples; for six decades she has been the solid rock of American music. Alongside the family group she is so identified with, the Staple Singers, Mavis has managed to transform herself as she goes, yet never alter.
From the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s, to the engaged protest of the civil rights era, and then, amazingly, on pop radio in the Stax era with a series of soul anthems, from “I’ll Take You There” to “Respect Yourself:” through all these Mavis carried on, her warm embrace of a voice the only constant.
How many musicians can claim this: to exist outside any scene, outside genre, yet weaving themselves into the fabric of soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, rock and blues? Many of the maverick names that come to mind are composers as well; that Mavis has created her legacy as an interpreter of others – an underestimated talent since the days of the band singers – makes her achievement all the more impressive.
She gives voice to others; more than that, she gives voice to entire movements, to eras, to songs so old their roots are lost. And she manages to work a little P-Funk in there too.
Recently, recognition of Mavis’ unique role in American music has been growing beyond her longtime fans, dipping into the wider world of pop as she performs alongside Justin Timberlake at the White House tribute to Memphis Soul, or with Elton John in a show-stealing Grammy tribute to Levon Helm of the Band.
Her first album with Tweedy at the controls, You Are Not Alone, won a much deserved Grammy. Now, on her second collaboration with Tweedy – Mavis calls him “Tweedy” all day long, and they are a pleasure to watch in the studio, riffing like some old vaudeville team – she has made an album to match her new national profile. One True Vine is an album that will both surprise longtime fans and solidify her position at the helm of American music.
00 I'll Take You There
01 Respect Yourself
02 Heavy Makes You Happy
03 People, My People
04 If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)
05 Keep On Pushing
06 Have A Little Faith
07 Let's Do It Again
08 You Must Have That True Religion
09 Eyes On The Prize
10 I Belong to the Band
11 Wonderful Savior
12 Holy Ghost
13 Every Step
14 Can You Get To That
15 Jesus Wept
16 Far Celestial Shore
17 What Are They Doing In Heaven Today
18 Sow Good Seeds
19 I Like The Things About Me
20 Woke Up This Morning (with Jesus on my mind)
21 One True Vine
One True Vine
Only For The Lonely
A Piece of the Action
Oh What A Feeling
Don't Change Me Now
Time Waits For No One
Spirituals & Gospel
Have A Little Faith
We’ll Never Turn Back
Hope Fit The Hideout
You Are Not Alone
One True Vine
NAMED WFUV’s ARTIST OF THE YEAR!
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014
Mavis Staples has been named WFUV’s Artist Of The Year! “It’s a big year for Mavis, who turns 75 this summer, and a perfect time to look back at her iconic career and her visits to WFUV.”
FROM KNEE REPLACEMENT
FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 2013
Rock and roll hall of fame singer Mavis Staples, whose June release ‘One True Vine’ has been garnering career-best praise, is recovering comfortably at her Chicago home after undergoing outpatient knee replacement surgery late last week.
Staples had been suffering from a degenerative bone condition that made walking and even standing intolerably painful. “The first half of this year, I recorded my album and refused to let the bone-on-bone condition in my knee affect its release or my touring schedule. The only thing that made it possible was the support of my band and crew and the amazing warmth and response from the people who attend my shows.” Since completing her record in February through July 26, Staples had performed over 40 shows in 2013, including a tour of Australia and a performance with Elton John at the Grammy Awards in February. “Now he and I have both gone under the knife this year,” Staples jokes.
The Grammy-winner, who turned 74 in July, has been touring steadily since 1954 and said “I have only cancelled a handful of shows in my life; my father Pops Staples taught us that you don’t stand up the people who come out to see you. But I was forced to cancel a few European dates in August so that I could return to Chicago to have my knee replaced.”
The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard Berger at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Berger is a specialist in minimally-invasive knee replacement, which is a key factor in allowing Staples to resume her touring career just weeks after the replacement. “I am honored to help Ms. Staples, a true legend in music,” Dr. Berger said. “It was remarkable to see Mavis walking and singing just a few hours after surgery. This new knee replacement procedure allowed her to walk out of the hospital the same day and will allow her to resume her busy tour schedule.”
About her surgery, Staples reports, “My surgery was like a party. I was actually having fun. They were playing ‘I’ll Take You There,’ ‘Respect Yourself’–even ‘Holy Ghost’ from the new record when I was rolled into the big room. I was signing autographs. Next thing I know I was waking up in recovery. As someone who has a slight fear of the doctor, this has been quite an experience.”
Staples was not shy about sharing her condition with her fans, many of whom responded with letters, emails and notes on Facebook. Fan Susan Hiraishi of Toronto wrote to Staples, “I saw you in Toronto in June and saw how much your knee was bothering you. I want to share with you that I had mine done eight weeks ago and I feel fantastic. I am pain free and I am on my way to doing everything. Before you know it you will be pain free and back on the stage.”
Total knee replacement has become one of the most common surgical procedures as the baby boomer generation ages, with over 650,000 Americans having the procedure done this year, nearly double the number from ten years ago.
Now undergoing intensive physical therapy in her home, Staples will hit the road again with a vengeance, starting with a hometown show at Chicago’s Hideout Music Festival September 6, less than a month after her surgery. Also this Fall are dates with Bonnie Raitt in October, followed by a trip to Europe to play Royal Albert Hall in London.
‘One True Vine’, produced by WILCO’s Jeff Tweedy, was named as one of ‘Entertainment Weekly’s’ 10 Biggest Albums of the Summer alongside releases by Kanye West and Beyonce, and Staples has appeared on ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Conan’ to promote the record, as well as supporting select Dave Matthews Band dates earlier this summer.
MAVIS’ NEW LP
ONE TRUE VINE, PRODUCED BY WILCO’S JEFF TWEEDY, OUT TODAY
TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013
From features in TIME and New York Magazine to the Wall Street Journal and SPIN, Mavis Staples is earning career-best praise for her new Jeff Tweedy-produced album, One True Vine (out today via Anti-). Watch her recent performance on The Daily Show, catch her on Conan tonight, and stream the full album here.
Mavis will celebrate the album release with a performance at the Fonda in LA tomorrow night and play two shows with Dave Matthews Band June 28-29 at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. See below for what the critics are saying:
“Determinedly celebratory.” -New York Times
“Joyous singing and jagged guitar solos.” -EW
“A slow burn well-suited to Staples’ rich, dusky voice.” -NPR
“Intimate and personal.” -USA Today
“Spectacular.” -The Independent
“Glowing with warmth.” -The Guardian
“Sweet, surprising…there isn’t much [Mavis] can’t make gorgeous.” -Rolling Stone
“Fresh.” -Wall Street Journal
“Delving deep into her rich history.” -TIME
“A truly golden album.” -BlackBook
“Staples’ passion for transcendence comes across as an unwavering creed.” -Relix
TO NEW ZEALAND IN APRIL WITH WILCO
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2013
Alt-country superstars Wilco are teaming up with Mavis for what promises to be two of the most essential shows of 2013. Mavis will be heading to NZ straight from the studio, where she is once again recording with Jeff Tweedy.
Tickets on sale now. For more show & ticketing info, visit Muchmore Music.
AT GRAMMY CEREMONY THIS SUNDAY
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2013
Renowned soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples will be performing at this year’s Grammy Award Ceremony on Sunday in Los Angeles. Staples will be singing with Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes), T. Bone Burnett, Zac Brown and others in a performance honoring the late singer/drummer Levon Helm of The Band with a performance of the the group’s beloved song “The Weight.”
Staples will also be appearing on Friday at a benefit concert for MusiCares honoring the charity’s “Person of the Year” Bruce Springsteen. She will be singing with Zac Brown. Additional performers that night will include Neil Young, Jackson Brown, Elton John, Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and a host of other prominent musicians.
Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Staples are currently in the studio working on her upcoming 2013 release. The album will be the highly anticipated follow up to her critically lauded album You Are Not Alone which was also produced by Tweedy and won a Grammy Award in the Best Americana Album vocal or Instrumental category. The record was described by Time Magazine as “Gorgeous” and by Spin as “Inspired.” Mavis Staples is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
“…a voice that has only gained texture and power over the years…”—Pitchfork
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