Few people deserve to be called ‘legendary’ quite as much as Mavis Staples. Over the course of a 60-year career both as a solo artist and in her family band, the Staple Singers, she has released a large batch of critically acclaimed gospel albums and performed to countless delighted audiences. And you could be in the next one, as Mavis has decided to spend her 75th birthday in the Union Chapel in Islington.
It’s hard to think of a venue more suited to the sultry tones of Mavis Staples as Upper Street’s most rocking temple. Mavis will perform a special birthday concert on 10 July, at which she will fire off the hits that have soundtracked some of the most memorable events in American history, most notably the civil rights protests of the 1960s with which she is particularly associated. She’s worked with Bob Dylan, Prince, Ray Charles and heaven knows how many more.
Rather than describing in greater detail precisely why you should go to this gig — because it’s plainly going to be amazing — we’ve decided instead to give you what we consider to be Mavis’s three finest songs from her vast back catalogue. OK, so it’s the three best of the ones people have uploaded to You Tube, but they’re damn fine all the same.
First, a blast of earnest soul in the form of Ready For The Heartbreak, from her late-1960s spell at the famous Stax Records.
Second, a number from a far more recent album, One True Vine, released just last year. Here’s What Are They Doing In Heaven Today, and if you don’t close your eyes and shake your head while listening to this then you’re as good as dead inside.
And finally, from 1970, Chained. It needs no explanation, just listen.
It’s superb that Mavis has decided to eschew her native Chicago to spend her birthday in London and we heartily recommend snapping up a ticket while you still can.
Mavis Staples plays the Union Chapel on 10 July, and tickets are available from the AGMP website.
Image courtesy of wfuv via Flickr.