Mavis Staples looking for that first Grammy win

By Caryn Rousseau

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 3 2011 7:15 a.m. MST

"All of us were around one microphone," she says. "You could see the vapor coming from our mouths as we sang this song. When we went in to listen I was the first to say, 'Oh man, that sounds good.' I said, 'Tweedy I will never dispute your word again. Whatever you ask for I'm willing.'"

Staples describes the sessions at the Wilco loft as a "lovefest."

"The Wilco guys would come through and bring their babies and their wives and puppies," she says. "It was just beautiful."

Tweedy feels the same way about her.

"She's somebody that has an enormous spirit that is visible to all people and has managed to stay vibrant and relevant," Tweedy says. "She has a special gift."

Her friend and the author of the gospel music encyclopedia "Uncloudy Days," Bil Carpenter, calls Staples one of the last surviving true soul artists. Carpenter said some of her current work updates her Staples Singers standards for a new generation.

"It's almost like she has a foot in the past, but she has a foot into the future too," Carpenter said. "You're going into the future, but you're not forgetting the past."

Both Staples and Tweedy say they'd love to work together again, but there are no set plans.

"I'm hanging with Tweedy," Staples said. "No need in us breaking up right now."

These days Staples lives in an apartment that overlooks Lake Michigan. The walls are filled with gold and platinum records and a framed copy of "Cash Box" magazine from 1972 with The Staples Singers on the cover.

She spends a lot of time with her sister, Yvonne. Her other sister, Cleotha, lives nearby but is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

No matter where the future takes her, Staples said she will continue the civil rights work she started with The Staples Singers when they sang before Martin Luther King Jr. spoke.

"That's all a part of my life," she said. "I can't let that go. Dr. King, to know him, to be close with him, to march with him, the great man that he was. Any way that I can continue, I intend to continue the movement because it's still alive."

And you can bet, she'll be singing.

"I've been singing since I was eight years old," she said. "I just don't see no stopping. It's what I love to do and I tell you they'll probably have to come and scrape me up off the stage. I'm not going anywhere."

Online:

http://www.mavisstaples.com

http://www.grammys.com

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