A lifelong music fan and an Avalon Theatre regular, Ramsey Poston is President of Tuckahoe Strategies and lives in Denton, MD. He shares with us his excitement for the upcoming performance of gospel legend and civil rights activist, Mavis Staples, appearing live on the Avalon Theatre stage Sunday, October 12th, 8:00pm.
When I saw that Mavis Staples was coming to the historic Avalon Theatre I couldn’t buy my tickets fast enough. As a music lover, I have always believed that when you have the chance to see a living legend you do it without question. Make no mistake Mavis Staples is in the legend category.
Mavis was a member of the seminal Staple Singers that gave us hits such as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There”. The band was led by her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples who started out as a bluesman and emerged as the leader of one of the most enduring and beloved bands in music history. Mavis learned about change from her father and has been adapting with the times ever since. Her versatility is one of the things I most enjoy about Mavis – her performances take the audience through multiple generations of music. Likewise it would be mistake to label her as any one genre. Mavis Staples is as much Gospel as she is Go-Go.
For example, it is her stunning voice you hear on the song “The Weight” from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz. It’s her taking over lead vocals when the Staple Singers appeared on Soul Train and covered the Talking Heads song “Slippery People” that solidified her funk credentials. And let me just say when she sings the sultry and sensuous Curtis Mayfield song, “Let’s Do it Again” I’m not exactly thinking about church.
While her performances range from gospel to funk her message is consistent. It’s a message of joy, love and inspiration. It’s pretty clear that she has that affect on people. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. loved her voice and Bob Dylan just plain loved her. In fact, Dylan and Mavis became quite close. One day while Dylan stood in a buffet line with the Staples he called out, “Pops, I want to marry Mavis.” Pops responded, “Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!” In a 2012 interview Mavis said about Dylan, “I call that my lost love. The love I lost because I didn’t go and marry him. I was just too young…both of us were very young.”
And next month some of music’s biggest stars will gather in Chicago to celebrate Mavis’ brilliant career. The bill includes icons such as Taj Mahal, Gregg Allman, Aaron Neville and Patty Griffin. But before that happens we get to see her brilliance right here at the Avalon Theatre. In recent years Mavis has collaborated with Indie rock icon Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. In 2010 they released an album titled, “You Are Not Alone” followed by the 2013 album, “One True Vine.” The albums mark a return to Mavis’ gospel roots and feature her remarkably unique vocals. In the song “I Like the Things About Me,” a cut from “One True Vine” Mavis sings: “I looked in the mirror / What did I see – a brand new image / Of the same old me ohhh / But now I wonder why should I be surprised / I like the things about me…”
We like the same old things about you too, Ms. Staples, and eagerly look forward to your performance at the Avalon Theatre on Sunday, October 12. You can join me in seeing this legend by clicking HERE to buy you tickets!