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Friday, 15 April 2016

Mavis! merging spirituality and social comment


In the latest edition of Church Times I have a review of Mavis! the first feature documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. Featuring powerful live performances, rare archival footage, and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, and more, Mavis! reveals the struggles, successes, and intimate stories of her journey.

In the review, I say: "Jennifer Edwards’s documentary is an emotional tale and trip combining elation in the gospel with defiance of discrimination, as the group crosses boundaries — first, by combining blues, country, and gospel to create their unique sound, and then by merging spirituality and social comment at civil-rights marches and the Newport Folk Festival, before re-sacralising soul as Stax stars in the Black Power period characterised by the Wattstax Festival of 1972, a benefit after the Watts Riots in 1965."


The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There.

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