The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group.
Roebuck "Pops" Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b.
1935), Yvonne (b.
1936), and Mavis (b.
They are best known for their 1970s hits "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There", "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)", and "Let's Do It Again", all of which (except "I'll Take You There") peaked on the Hot 100 less than a week away from Christmas Day.While the family surname is "Staples", the group used the singular form for its name, "The Staple Singers".HistoryThe family began appearing in Chicago-area churches in 1948, and signed their first professional contract in 1952.
During their early career they recorded in an acoustic gospel-folk style with various labels: United Records, Vee-Jay Records (their "Uncloudy Day" and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" were best sellers), Checker Records, Riverside Records, and then Epic Records in 1965.It was on Epic that the Staple Singers began moving into mainstream pop markets, with "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" and "For What It's Worth" (Stephen Stills) in 1967.
In 1968, the Staple Singers signed to Stax Records and released two albums with Steve Cropper and Booker T & the MG's — Soul Folk in Action and We'll Get Over.
By 1970 Al Bell had become producer, and, with Engineer Terry Manning, the family began recording at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and Memphis' Ardent Studios, moving in a more funk and soul direction.The first Stax hit was "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" in early 1971.
Their late 1971 recording of "Respect Yourself", written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, peaked at #2 on the R&B charts and #12 on the Hot 100.
The song's theme of self-empowerment had universal appeal, released in the period immediately following the intense American civil rights movement of the 1960s.
In 1972 "I'll Take You There" topped both the pop and R&B charts.
In 1973 "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" reached #9 pop and #1 on the R&B chart.After Stax's 1975 bankruptcy, the foursome signed to Curtis Mayfield's label, Curtom Records, and released "Let's Do It Again", produced by Mayfield; the song became their second #1 pop hit in the US and the album also.
In 1976, they collaborated with The Band for their film The Last Waltz, performing on the song "The Weight" (which The Staple Singers had previously covered on their first Stax album).
However, they were not able to regain their momentum, releasing only occasional minor hits.
Their 1984 album Turning Point featured their final Top 40 hit, a cover of Talking Heads' "Slippery People" (which also reached the Top 5 on the Dance chart).
In 1994, they again performed the song "The Weight" with Country music artist Marty Stuart for MCA Nashville's Rhythm, Country and Blues compilation, somewhat re-establishing an audience.
The song "Respect Yourself" was used by Spike Lee in the soundtrack to his movie Crooklyn, made in 1994.In 1999, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Pops Staples died of complications from a concussion suffered in December 2000.
In 2005, the group was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mavis Staples has continued to carry on the family tradition and continues to add her vocal talents to both the projects of other artists and her own solo ventures.
Cleotha Staples died in Chicago on February 21, 2013, after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for over a decade.
I'll Take You There