Arts & Music
Mavis Staples heading to St. Pete on heels of new album
Mavis Staples is very excited. She just wrapped up her new album Tuesday night in a Chicago studio. "We were sitting around last night talking, and everybody kept saying, 'Grammy time, Grammy time," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum artist said via phone from her Chicago home. "I said, 'Do you really think they would give us two in a row?' " Staples asked the crew, laughing. It's hard to believe the legendary performer and part of the group The Staple Singers picked up her first Grammy last year for her album "You Are Not Alone," produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame. She is performing Saturday at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.Staples got her start singing with The Staple Singers, led by her father, "Pops" Staples. With a string of hit songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "Let's Do It Again," the group earned induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2005. The Staple Singers would stay together for more than 40 years, until Pops died in 2000. The group was nominated 12 times for a Grammy, and Mavis Staples was nominated twice, before winning. She still remembers being so overwhelmed she couldn't stop crying. "I nearly collapsed," said Staples, 74, "I could hardly walk up there to get (the Grammy). For 61 years I have been singing, and I finally got it. I've never had that feeling before in my life." Staples' says fans are in for a big surprise with her latest CD, which has not been named. "There are some traditional songs on the record that I used to hear my grandmother sing in church," Staples says. "And Tweedy has written three beautiful songs. On the last one, 'Jesus Wept,' I sat there and tears were flowing from my eyes. But I don't want tell you everything." Staples says she likes to make music — good music — and doesn't like when people try to categorize her sound. "Pops used to always say, 'Don't categorize us because you hear every kind of music in our music,' " said Staples, who is listed in Rolling Stone's 100 greatest singers of all time and picked up a Living Blues Award for most outstanding blues singer. "Pops always said, 'Sing from your heart. If you do, you will reach people and inspire them.' And that's where I come from. And I want to keep my father's legacy alive as long as I can."