Mavis Staples at Symphony Center, Chicago

Mavis Staples at Symphony Center, Chicago

Sun, 06/11/2023 - 11:30pm - Mon, 06/12/2023 - 12:30am

Mavis Staples

Credit: Emily Butler

Civil rights icon and living legend Mavis Staples returned home to Chicago and Symphony Center for one night only on February 4, 2023.

With a presence “so unfailingly joyful that you never take your eyes off her” (The New Yorker), Staples brought her iconic smoky sound to Orchestra Hall in a scintillating evening of soul, gospel, and her signature brand of R&B. Performances include “Slippery People,” made famous by Talking Heads and “For What’s It Worth,” by Buffalo Springfield, along with standards that include “Respect Yourself,” “Let’s Do it Again” and “No Time for Crying.” Mavis Staples at Symphony Center, Chicago airs Sunday, June 11 at 11:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Staples is the kind of once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to overstate. She’s both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a Grammy Award winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and sang in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s collaborated with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire and Hozier, blown away countless festival goers from Newport Folk and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, performed with The Band at The Last Waltz, and graced the airwaves on Fallon, Colbert, Ellen, Austin City Limits, Jools Holland, the Grammys, and more. At a time when most artists begin to wind down, Staples ramped things up, releasing a trio of critically acclaimed albums in her 70s with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy that prompted Pitchfork to rave that “her voice has only gained texture and power over the years” and People to proclaim that she “provides the comfort of a higher power.” In between records with Tweedy, Staples teamed up with a slew of other younger artists — Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Valerie June, tUnE-yArDs, and M. Ward, among others — for Livin’ On A High Note, an album The Boston Globe called “stunningly fresh and cutting edge” and which first introduced her to multi-Grammy Award-winner Ben Harper. In 2019, Staples and Harper collaborated on We Get By, the singer’s spectacular 12th studio album.