June 29, 2010

PRIZE WINNER:


Mavis Staples: 'If he can preach it, we can sing it'
(Brad Frenette, 6/25/10, National Post)

“We had a unique sound. My sisters and I realized that we were singing gospel songs, but Pops was playing blues on the guitar. He learned guitar from [the Delta bluesman] Charlie Patton down in Mississippi.”

Before long, that sound would take the Staples from singing at their local church to recording their debut album. Uncloudy Day was released in 1959 on Vivian Carter’s pre-Motown record company Vee-Jay Records, and became the first gospel record to sell a million copies. Their popularity blossomed, and they toured across the United States and a few years later, found themselves an audience with a man who would alter the course of their career, and music.

“One Sunday morning we happened to be in Montgomery, Alabama,” Staples recalls. “And we didn’t have to sing until that night.”

Pops asked his daughters to come with him to come with them to the morning service at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where a young reverend named Dr Martin Luther King Jr was about to deliver a sermon.

“We were ushered in and seated. Someone let Dr. King know that we were in the service. He acknowledged us...and said he hoped we enjoy the service. And well - we enjoyed the service!”

Afterward, Dr. King met with the family, and his words left an impression on the Staples patriarch, who then called a family meeting.

“[Pops] said: I like this man’s message. And I think that if he can preach it, we can sing it. We began writing freedom songs and protest songs. We joined the movement.”



Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2010 5:34 AM
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