The Staple Singers

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The Staple Singers
Staple Singers on Soul Train.jpg
The Staple Singers with Soul Train host Don Cornelius in 1974.
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresSoul, Gospel, Blues, R&B, Funk, Pop
Years active1948–1994
LabelsUnited Records, Vee-Jay Records, Checker Records, Riverside Records, Epic Records, Stax Records, Columbia, Curtom, United Artists, Warner Bros.
Associated actsCurtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, Booker T & the MG's The Ross Singers
Past membersRoebuck "Pops" Staples
Cleotha Staples
Pervis Staples
Yvonne Staples
Mavis Staples
 
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The Staple Singers
Staple Singers on Soul Train.jpg
The Staple Singers with Soul Train host Don Cornelius in 1974.
Background information
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresSoul, Gospel, Blues, R&B, Funk, Pop
Years active1948–1994
LabelsUnited Records, Vee-Jay Records, Checker Records, Riverside Records, Epic Records, Stax Records, Columbia, Curtom, United Artists, Warner Bros.
Associated actsCurtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, Booker T & the MG's The Ross Singers
Past membersRoebuck "Pops" Staples
Cleotha Staples
Pervis Staples
Yvonne Staples
Mavis Staples

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. 1939). 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".

Contents

History [edit]

The family began appearing in Chicago-area churches in 1948, and signed their first professional contract in 1952.[1] 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. While the family surname is "Staples", the group used the singular form for its name, resulting in the group's name being "The Staple Singers".

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'sSoul 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)". Their 1971 recording of "Respect Yourself", written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, peaked at #2 on the R&B charts and was a #12 pop hit as well. 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, the group had a huge #1 hit in the United States with "I'll Take You There". It topped both pop and R&B charts. "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" would become another big hit, reaching #9 pop and #1 on the R&B chart in 1973.

Then, after Stax's bankruptcy in 1975, they 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.[2]

Discography [edit]

Charted albums [edit]

YearTitlePeak chart positionsRecord label
US
[3]
US
R&B

[3]
CAN
[4]
1971The Staple Swingers1179Stax
1972Be Altitude: Respect Yourself19372
1973Be What You Are10213
1974City in the Sky12513
1975Let's Do It Again20187Curtom
1976Pass It On15520Warner Bros.
1977Family Tree58
1978Unlock Your Mind34
1984Turning Point43Private I
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Charted singles [edit]

YearTitlePeak chart positions
US
[3]
US
R&B

[3]
CAN
[4]
UK
[5]
1967"Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)"95
"For What It's Worth"66
1970"Love Is Plentiful"31
1971"Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)"27660
"You've Got to Earn It"9711
"Respect Yourself"12217
1972"I'll Take You There"112130
"This World"38685
1973"Oh La De Da"334
"Be What You Are"6618
"If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)"917934
1974"Touch a Hand, Make a Friend"23333
"City in the Sky"794
"My Main Man"7618
1975"Let's Do It Again"117
1976"New Orleans"70484
"Love Me, Love Me, Love Me"11
1977"Sweeter Than the Sweet"52
"See a Little Further (Than My Bed)"77
1978"I Honestly Love You"68
"Unlock Your Mind"16
1979"Chica Boom"82
1984"H-A-T-E (Don't Live Here Anymore)"46
"Slippery People"1092278
"This Is Our Night"50
1985"Are You Ready?"39
"Nobody Can Make It on Their Own"89
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

References [edit]

  1. ^ Preiser, David (2002). Uncloudy Day [CD liner notes]. New York:Koch Jazz.
  2. ^ Associated Press, "Cleotha Staples, eldest of the Staples Singers siblings, dies at 78", 22 February 2013
  3. ^ a b c d "US Charts > Staple Singers". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ a b "CAN Charts > Staple Singers". RPM. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ "UK Charts > Staple Singers". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 

External links [edit]