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I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway [Anglais] [Relié]

Greg Kot

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

I’ll Take You There

Prologue


image

“Freedom Highway” in sequined flats


I’m tired and I’m feeble,” declares Mavis Staples, with a high-beam smile that says exactly the opposite.

Mavis pretends to shuffle into the room as though a step away from collapse while paraphrasing Thomas Dorsey’s “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” a song that has been with her since she started to stir church congregations as an eight-year-old vocalist. Her sister Yvonne rolls her eyes in mock exasperation. A small flock of onlookers starts to laugh, breaks away from their backstage hospitality beers, and surges toward the sisters to clasp hands and offer hugs in a kind of group anointing.

Mavis and Yvonne—cofounders of the Staple Singers with their father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, and siblings Pervis and Cleotha—have arrived at the Hideout, an unassuming Chicago bar tucked amid West Side warehouses. In a few minutes they will be on a big stage outdoors in front of a hometown festival crowd of eight thousand just as the sun is disappearing on a mid-September day in 2011. Mavis and Yvonne, both in their seventies, have been up since 5 a.m. after playing a show the night before in Michigan. Mavis has been pumping vitamin C to fight off a cold and a scratchy voice. “This is loosening me up, though,” she says as laughter and conversation fill the Hideout’s back room.

Donny Gerrard, one of her backing vocalists, does not by any stretch consider himself a gospel singer, or even a believer. But Mavis has a way of pulling even skeptics along in her wake. She is an artist who grew up in church and on the civil rights battlefront, but she doesn’t finger-point, preach, or prod. She leads with her enthusiasm for the day ahead.

“When I was asked to join her group, I was worried about the God stuff, frankly,” says Gerrard, adjusting his tortoiseshell glasses as he watches Mavis banter with her well-wishers. “Don’t believe in it, myself. But damn, if she doesn’t make you feel something else is at work when she’s around.”

The tall, curly-haired singer takes off the glasses, and his eyes gleam. He’s ridden the music industry roller coaster in a career that has had failures, hits (he sang Skylark’s huge ’70s single “Wildflower”), and a few health problems.

“It doesn’t matter how low you feel,” he says. “Sometimes I carry it on the stage with me, and then I see Mavis and it’s like you can’t feel down anymore. She’s always up no matter what happened that day.”

Mavis looks into her carrying bag and with the drama of a magician makes an announcement: “I know what the stage needs!” She digs out the prize. “It needs glitter! Every singer needs her stage flats, sequined flats!”

A dozen onlookers scramble for their cell phones to take photos of the diva wear. “Y’all are some slow paparazzis.” Mavis laughs as the amateur photographers click away and begin texting, tweeting, and Instagramming their friends.

Mavis, her glitter flats and matching sequined black scarf ascend the five steps onto the stage to cheers that stretch across a vast lot. Fans perched in windows and on rooftops of the buildings beyond wave their greetings. Yvonne, just off her sister’s right shoulder, is clapping just as boisterously. Nonbeliever Gerrard joins Mavis, Yvonne, and their band in an a cappella version of “Wonderful Savior”: “I am His, and He is mine.” Within seconds, the audience turns into Mavis’s moonlight choir with their rhythmic clapping.

Violin-playing indie-rocker Andrew Bird joins for The Band’s “The Weight,” which the Staple Singers had performed as part of The Last Waltz concert in 1976. Bird and Gerrard each take a verse, and then Mavis “takes it to church,” as her old friend Levon Helm used to say, a tambourine accenting every beat. Mavis twirls her hands above her head, and Yvonne is loving it, applauding her sister’s feistiness. Bring it on, Mavis roars, as she slaps her chest. “Put the load, put the load, put the load right on me.”

When the Staple Singers’ civil rights anthem “Freedom Highway” arrives, the band rolls into a marching beat and the call-and-response vocals between Mavis and her backing singers pick up the pace, more urgent with each turn. “March!” “Up freedom’s highway!” It is an echo of ’60s freedom marches, the sound of citizen soldiers girding for a beatdown, in the name of a cause that they believe is worth their blood and tears, and quite possibly their lives.

“My father, Pop Staples, wrote that song in 1965,” Mavis says as the anthem winds down. “Yes, he did, he wrote it for the big march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. We marched, we marched, and we marched, and it ain’t over yet!”

The band rumbles, voices from the audience shout encouragement. Most of the fans weren’t even born when activists, ministers, and everyday citizens locked arms and marched into a gauntlet of police clubs, snarling dogs, and water cannons in the name of racial equality.

“I’m still on that highway,” Mavis says. “And I will be there until Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream has been realized.”

At the side of the stage, the teenage Chicago musician Liam Cunningham is watching with a few members of his band, Kids These Days, who had played earlier in the day. They’ve read about the freedom marches in school, seen the news footage of the shaking fists and swinging police batons. Now they’re standing a few feet from one of the leading messengers of that era. Cunningham is mesmerized. “Her existence brings tears to my eyes,” he says softly.

The show doesn’t so much conclude as get passed on, one voice to the next. Mavis hands the closing duties to the audience, which embraces a twelve-minute version of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” and sings it back to her. Mavis waves and exits alongside Yvonne, then hugs her brother, Pervis, who is standing in the wings applauding. She and her sister slide into a waiting black limousine behind the stage, roll down a tinted window, and wave to a small group of fans.

“Time to remove the sequined flats,” Mavis says with a laugh. “They got more work to do.”

Revue de presse

“[I’ll Take You There] takes us deep into the golden age of Mavis and her marvelously talented group.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A biography that will send readers back to the music of Mavis and the Staple Singers with deepened appreciation and a renewed spirit of discovery…. Through it all, the ebullience of Mavis Staples and her music shine through.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Kot chronicles the amazing story of a family that went from a hardscrabble life in Mississippi to Chicago’s church circuit to worldwide fame, merging the genres of roots, gospel, and soul…. This is a moving tribute to a very talented family and one gracious woman, in particular.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers are a mighty river running through more than a half-century of song, connecting Sam Cooke to Prince and Bob Dylan to Wilco. Thoroughly researched and elegantly told, I’ll Take You There offers powerful and inspiring insight into not only American music, but American history.” (Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”)

“A lively, engaging family biography, written with the Stapleses' cooperation and filled with vivid portraits, celebrity cameos and descriptions of music so evocative I kept wishing the book had come with a set of CDs.” (Tampa Bay Times)

“Emotional honesty resonates throughout I'll Take You There. Kot provides an unflinching look into the Stapleses' struggles to maintain their spiritual and artistic integrity… I'll Take You There is a biography that's well worth the heavenly journey.” (NPR)

"[A] fascinating testimony. . . . Kot’s portrayal of Mavis is deft and balanced, worthy of a performance that, no matter howoften you play it, never fails to live up to the promise of its title." (Chicago Tribune)

"Kot depicts the endurance of Mavis Staples and her family’s music as an inspiration, a saga that takes us, like the song that inspired this book’s name, to a place where ain’t nobody crying." (Washington Post)

“Kot’s take on the singer’s immense discography is invaluable, and Staples’ indomitable spirit shines through." (The A.V. Club)

“A thorough and illuminating biography that offers plenty of revealing details about a group the Band’s Robbie Robertson once likened to ‘a lonely train in the distance.’” (Paste)

“Involving from beginning to end. . . . [Kot] charts the [Staples] family’s origins in gospel music; their gradual drift into folk, soul and pop; the reverberations of their increasingly political songs during the civil rights era. . . 'I'll Take You There'...is rich musical history." (New York Times)

"Remarkable. . . . With Mavis opening up the Staples archives and providing access to family and friends, Kot...[shapes] a story bigger than just that of a singing group. " (The Commercial Appeal)

"A darn good story. . . . Whisking readers over a span of nearly 100 years, author Kot presents aroller-coaster ride of the highs and lows of one of gospel and soul’s mosticonic families. . . . a great look at history, both musically and culturally. . . . If you’re a fan of soul, R&B or gospel, “I’ll Take You There” is a bookyou’ll want to corner." (The Topeka Capital Journal)

"That Staples' life story is deeply intertwined with the Rev. Martin Luther KingJr., Sam Cooke, the Band, Bob Dylan, Lou Rawls, Jeff Tweedy, Prince, ArethaFranklin, Mahalia Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, Stax Records andJerry Butler is no mean feat. . .The gems are here in all their richness." (Windy City Times)

"Fascinating... Musical analysis doesn't get much better." (DownBeat)

"Kot has a knack for distilling the stuff of interviews and research into pithy descriptions of the Staple Singers’ lean years." (The Nation)

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  19 commentaires
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 really good book 28 janvier 2014
Par mistermaxxx08 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Mavis Staples is a strong voice and this book is a strong read and it takes you through different paths and times this book talks about family time, talks about the industry and the various stages and aspects. very good book and alot of information. this is a good read and a artist who hasn't gotten her due and her family for that matter. the Staple Singers were always the truth musically.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An American Treasure 5 février 2014
Par Carl Bean - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
An amazing inside look not only at the Staple Family but at the musical landscape of American Folk, Blues and Black Gospel music!! How the music of the 60's, and 70's crossed all categorical lines in the public arena!! A great read for all music lovers!!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating Story That Needed To Be Told 15 février 2014
Par Andrew C. Langert - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Not sure what was better: Greg Kot's thorough, meticulous research or the masterful way he tells the Staples story. Kot is a brilliant critic who really gains a deep understanding of the artists he studies.
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I was disappointed in that I thought the book would have more ... 14 août 2014
Par gwendolyn a. bell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I was disappointed in that I thought the book would have more bio on Mavis Staples and most of what the book had instead was family info and social commentary. I appreciate the times were turbulent for African Americans and I know that played a part in the music they made and that was an interesting part of the book, however I would have liked to have had a more personal portrait of Mavis. I do not say reading this book is a complete waste of time, however I would recommend reading other books more highly than this one.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Can't Wait to Go There! 29 mai 2014
Par Thomas Ball - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Can't wait to dive into this book-Mavis, even at this stage in her life, still can make people jump to their feet and say "AMEN"!
Seller shipped just like they said they would and is in my book que!
Thanks
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