Mavis Staples, the spiritual and musical voice of the Civil Rights Movement, has been nominated as an Outstanding Gospel Artist by the NAACP Image Awards. This honor closely follows a stellar year in which her Anti Records release We’ll Never Turn Back was included in over three dozen critics’ “Best Of 2007” year end lists.
Airing Feb 14th on the Fox network, the NAACP Image Awards honors projects and individuals that promote diversity in the arts in television, recording, literature and motion pictures.
Staples began recording when she was still in grade school with her father and siblings in the gospel-rooted Staples Singers, and together they scored their first hit in 1956, a year before Mavis graduated high school. In the decades since, “God’s greatest hitmakers” have had several number one singles, been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and been induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yet it is the Staples Singers’ blend of soulful music with social activism, performing with Dr. Martin Luther King and as part of the Civil Rights’ movement, that has been Mavis’ most enduring legacy.
We’ll Never Turn Back is in essence, a tribute to Mavis’ life, from her early gospel days performing in churches across the country, to her time marching for freedom and dignity with Dr. King. Produced by Ry Cooder, the record is a collection of both impassioned protest songs and hopeful inspirationals, given new life through Mavis’ uplifting voice and soulful delivery, and the project resonated with fans and critics alike. A sampling of some of the accolades received by We’ll Never Turn Back in the 2007 wrap-ups includes:
#48 in Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Albums: “Here, Mavis Staples measures how far we've come and have yet to go.”
#8 in Esquire’s Eight Best Songs…: “a hell-raising, uplifting tribute to a higher power, civil rights, and the awesome power of forgiveness.”
#1 in the Chicago Tribune: “What a voice.”
#57 in Yahoo Music Top 100: “Her complete comfort with her immense talent is hard to beat, and I'm not sure how she could possibly raise the bar any higher than she has.”
Others include: #10 in Newsday, #9 in the Philadelphia Enquirer, #2 in the Baltimore Sun, #10 in the NY Daily News, #5 in the Austin Chronicle, “Top Pop” in the SF Chronicle, #10 in the Seattle Times, and on and on…
In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, Mavis will make two special appearances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music early next week. On Monday, she will take part in the annual tribute to Dr. King at 10:30 am, and will perform there in concert on Tuesday evening.