Legendary singer Mavis Staples — the embodiment of everything that’s good in the world right now — will return to New Zealand in April 2019 in a special one-off concert featuring our own treasure, Tami Neilson, in support.
Having continuously crossed genre lines like no musician since Ray Charles, from gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues, rock, and hip hop over the past 60 years, Mavis has seen and sung through so many changes, always rising up to meet every road.
She continues to thrill and inspire audiences around the world, with fans describing her performances as “stunning and moving”.
“She had many thousands of people in the palm of her hand. It was a beautiful sight to see. Kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says a critic after her appearance in front of a record crowd at an American festival last month.
Since her first recording at age 13 in 1954, Mavis has been in the company of countless legends. From the Delta-inflected gospel sound she helped create in the 1950s with her family as The Staple Singers, to the freedom songs of the Civil Rights era, to pop stardom during the Stax era with hits “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself,” to The Last Waltz, to serving as muse to both Bob Dylan and Prince, to collaborations with Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Zac Brown, Ry Cooder, Chuck D. and Willie Nelson, her GRAMMY®-winning partnership with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and most recently with Hozier on his latest song Nina Cried Power.
Mavis is here, having weaved in and through all that fabric for all these many years, to show us that true joy lies simply in living for others. It’s the sermon Dr. King gave all those years ago, and we must be grateful that she is able to echo it for us now. Mavis takes us—not only there, but back, up, and through.
“I’ve been singing for a lifetime and I love it so much … You all better look out, because God is not through with me yet. I’m not stopping. I’m gonna keep on pushing.”
“It’s still the same message,” she says. “I’m still trying to bring us together and make the world a better place through songs. We need one another more than ever now—things ain’t no better now that when I started 70 years ago.”
Like Mavis, Tami was brought up in a musical family and, like Mavis, she paid tribute to her late father by performing his songs. Neilson, a country and soul singer, winner of the prestigious Silver Scroll award and slew of country music awards, has just completed tours of New Zealand, Australia and Europe with her latest album Sassafrass! and championed to convince her idol Mavis to return to New Zealand to perform.