Mavis Staples has continuously crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles. Weaving herself into the very fabric of gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and even hip hop over the better part of the last 60 years, the iconic singer has seen and sung through so many changes, always rising up to meet every road unwaveringly.
Along the way, she has learned from, worked with, and schooled countless legends from all arenas, and has brought her own timeless talent to each and every performance. She has sold a million gospel records, walked beside Dr. Martin Luther King, helped lead the ‘70s soul-power movement, sung under the spotlight during The Last Waltz, served as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince at the peak of their careers, and won over 21st-century fans with a trio of deeply spiritual solo albums produced by Ry Cooder (2007’s WE’LL NEVER TURN BACK) and by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.
With the release of her new album LIVIN’ ON A HIGH NOTE, she continues to gain momentum. Referencing and drawing from her past while taking the music to fresh places, Mavis and her team recruited a unique group of artists to write songs for the record. Names such as Neko Case, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, Son Little, and M. Ward—with Ward also tapped to produce the album in full.
“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; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”
Pre-order ‘LIVIN’ ON A HIGH NOTE’ here:
Livin’ On A High Note songwriting credits:
Take Us Back (Benjamin Booker)
Love And Trust (Ben Harper)
If It’s A Light (The Head & The Heart)
High Note (Valerie June)
Don’t Cry (M Ward)
Tomorrow (Aloe Blacc/John Batiste)
Dedicated (Justin Vernon/M Ward)
History Now (Neko Case)
One Love (Son Little)
Jesus Lay Down Beside Me (Nick Cave)
MLK Song (M Ward/ Martin Luther King)
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