- Title: I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway
- Author: Greg Kot
- ISBN: 9781451647853
- Page: 478
- Format: Hardcover
This is the untold story of living legend Mavis Staples lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era One of the most enduring artists of popular music, Mavis and her talented family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song Honing her prodigious talent on the Southern gospel ciThis is the untold story of living legend Mavis Staples lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era One of the most enduring artists of popular music, Mavis and her talented family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song Honing her prodigious talent on the Southern gospel circuit of the 1950s, Mavis and the Staple Singers went on to sell than 30 million records, with message oriented soul music that became a soundtrack to the civil rights movement inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr himself.Critically acclaimed biographer and Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot cuts to the heart of Mavis Staples s music, revealing the intimate stories of her sixty year career From her love affair with Bob Dylan, to her creative collaborations with Prince, to her recent revival alongside Wilco s Jeff Tweedy, this definitive account shows Mavis as you ve never seen her before I ll Take You There was written with the complete cooperation of Mavis and her family Readers will also hear from Prince, Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne, and many others whose lives have been influenced by Mavis s talent.Filled with never before told stories, this fascinating biography illuminates a legendary singer and group during a historic period of change in America Ultimately, 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 The Washington Post 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 Kirkus Reviews, starred review from the acclaimed music journalist and author featured prominently in the new HBO documentary Mavis
Recent Comments "I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway"
It has become a bit of a cliche to say 50s artists like Ray Charles contributed to popular music by merging a gospel feel into rhythm and blues. It is a good example of a cliche that rings true. Yet not much is said about the accomplishment of Pops Stable and his children. While Ray was merging gospel and soul together, Pops was taking elements of the blues and blending them into gospel.It is also unfortunate that most people know The Staple Singers for their hits in the 70s like "I'll Take You [...]
This is a useful biography of the Staples family, especially Roebuck ("Pops") Staples, and his children, including the great Mavis Staples. All the chapters are quite short: once I finally began, I could not stop reading. The book is very much from a Chicago music critic's perspective, but it fills a void. The Staples were among Dr. King's favorites, and that is here, too, together with the Staples' relationships with musical peers. I have a memory of seeing the Staple Singers on the Flip Wilson [...]
An engaging biography of a great band. I'm not sure it needed so many subtitles. I guess that's because it starts with Pops but finishes with Mavis. At times it felt a little superficial on some of the personal milestones, but the detail on the music portions makes up for it. When I saw Mavis play last year, I noticed that her sister Yvonne - the only other Staples on the stage - looked like she wasn't entirely excited to be there. This book made me far more sympathetic. Yvonne comes across as s [...]
I hate to give this only two stars, but it just wasn't for me. While I often enjoy biographies about people I know little or nothing about, this felt more to me like a biography of the music and actual songs, and not the people. I think someone with familiarity of the Staples Singers music and other artists they worked with, and especially the songs (because you're going to hear about the same songs over and over and over again, throughout the decades, sung in similar and different ways, with di [...]
Initially, for the subject matter, I was thinking it was a four star book, but as I read and found the writing to be dry, I thought it more of a three. Upon completion, I was torn between a three or a two. Ultimately, the conclusion left me wanting, the perspective was biased, and I was left feeling like so much significant information was missing while too many trivial details dragged it down. My major grievances:The author describes music poorly. After reading a chapter of songs listed and hav [...]
This review is based on my personal preferences and no reflection of the writing of the book. Its great. Its easy. Its a little musical history of Chicago, main stream gospel, and music with the civil rights movement. Its a perfect pick for the one book one chicago. What I didn't like is this is a family band and that is what the book discusses, its not just Mavis it is just as much about her father who everyone calls Pops and the rest of her siblings who made up the band. Also, I don't read a l [...]
The saga of the Staples family mirrors the story of the 20th century African American experience. Roebuck "Pops" Staples grows up in the Mississippi Delta, migrates to Chicago, works in the factories. He, his wife, and his children attend church and begin a gospel group. They live through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, rise to stardom in the early 70s, struggle through the late 70s and 80s, ascend again in the 90s.Mavis Staples is such a special voice in American music. As pow [...]
2.5 stars, really. Poor Greg Kot is an excellent researcher, but his writing leaves much to be desired. This book struggles with pacing and storytelling, and ventures way too heavily into really technical (and dry) musical descriptions that even I found off-putting (and I am more interested in music theory and history than most.) Kot had the most dynamic, charming, incredibly talented subject in the world -- the incomparable Mavis Staples -- and yet somehow made her story and her personality see [...]
Black churches existed everywhere there was a black American population. These churches provided stability and a community core for a largely disenfranchised group, and wherever there were black churches there was music. Black gospel music became a hybrid of spiritual praise and entertainment and in search of personal excellence its performers rehearsed outside of church hours; it was not uncommon for families to organically generate superb singing groups. The best of these groups could expand t [...]
This book was tremendous. I started it on a 3.5 hour plane ride and couldn't put it down. The family's history is fascinating, starting with the birth of Pops (Mavis' father) and all the way through the release of Mavis' last albums produced by Jeff Tweedy. The blurb doesn't really do it justice. I was expecting much more exposition on historical context, but Kot is such a skilled writer that I never felt like I was reading a history textbook or even a newspaper article as he skillfully describe [...]
A great book about music, of course, but also about musicality, which Greg Kot describes so well in story after anecdote throughout the book. I regret missing the author's appearance Monday at our great indie bookstore. Mavis and her sisters made a surprise appearance at the event. Pops Staples was born in 1915 as a sharecropper's son on The Dockery Farms in The Delta with music everywhere. Howlin' Wolf also grew up there. Pops moved his family to Chicago in 1936. By the late '40s, his gospel-si [...]
As one reared on the 1970s Stax Records catalog of The Staple Singers ("I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself," "Reach Out, Touch a Hand" and "The Weight," among others) and a regular listener of Mavis Staples' solo work right up to the present time, I was delighted to see this release from Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot, published by Simon & Schuster in January of 2014.As with his columns in the Tribune, Kot did NOT disappoint."I'll Take You There" deftly follows the Staples' ascen [...]
A wonderful account of Mavis Staples and the legacy of her father and siblings, The Staple Singers. Whereas the book was dense with dates and names, it serves as evidence to the influence the family had on the civil rights movement and the music industry.I was fortunate enough to see Ms. Staples in concert this summer, which prompted me to read this book.I knew at the time that I was witnessing greatness but had little idea of the impact she and Roebuck Staples had. I especially love the direct [...]
A fantastic biography of one of my famous artists of any type. The Staple Singers drew from and fed into so many currents in the great river of American music--blues, gospel, folk R&B, country, and more. I know Mavis mostly from her late-career renaissance, but this makes me want look up so much of the family's earlier periods. Anyone who toured the South with Martin Luther King deserves a shot, right?
Very entertaining and informative read. I kind of wish it was longer as I felt some chapters were short. That being said I learned quite a bit about The Staples formative years and their close relationship with MLK. It is very sad that some of the same topics from 60 years ago concerning race relations are still relevant in today's world. All the more necessary to keep these stories alive as a constant reminder of the work that still needs to be completed.
Brilliant because it focuses on what every music biography should focus on--the process of music making; on recordings, and on live shows. With a useful discography at the end of the book: a well-written, deep examination of what makes the Staple Singers so important in the history of 20th Century American music.
The life and career of the Staples Singer, one of the greatest folk-soul and gospel acts, is explored carefully in this richly written and well-sourced book. Kot takes considerable care when discussing the musical impact and legacy of the Staple Singers and their significance during the Civil Rights movement and beyond. Tracing back as far as Pop Staples’ childhood, Kot draws a clear narrative connecting Pops’ experience growing up on a Mississippi plantation to the spirituality driving the [...]
I deeply enjoyed this book for several reasons. First, as a native Chicagoan, I learned so much about the African-American gospel community, flowering just blocks from where I was born in the late 40s. Roebuck (Pops) Staples and 4 of his talented children started singing there as The Staple Singers, beginning a long career that still continues through the talent of Mavis Staples. Second, the book was a journey through the Civil Rights Era and the music that accompanied and shaped it. Do as I did [...]
The book spent too much time listing songs and not enough time discussing how the Staples felt about being wrapped up in turbulent times. It was more of a discography than a biography. That made it a tedious read.Here’s an example- it says that Bob Dylan proposed to Mavis and it wasn’t a joke the way that people thought it was at the time. They dated for months and were in love. It implied she regretted turning down the proposal. That’s it. Such a major event and it gets half a page? Reall [...]
Man, I was really looking forward to the story on this one. Instead it read like a really long, dry review of every song and album the staples singers and Mavis ever sang. Greg Kot reviews music for the Tribune and you can tell. The most interesting parts—their time traveling through the south at the beginning of their careers, their relationship with MLK Jr, Cynthia’s suicide and the interview at the end where you can actually read Mavis’s words— are skimmed over and buried in music rev [...]
What a great read! This slim book covers so much in very readable style. This is the story of Mavis Staples, lead singer of the Staple Singers, but it is also the story of a family. But the story of Mavis and her family are inextricably linked to the civil rights movement and the role music played and continues to play in the history of civil rights in this country. As a Chicagoan I really enjoyed reading about the Staple Singers roots in Chicago and how Mavis continues to be part of the music i [...]
I knew very little about the Staple Singers when I began reading this book; although I had heard the song "I'll Take You There". While reading it, I played some of the music listed throughout the story to confirm my interpretation of their music style described by Greg Kot was accurate - it was. The story chronicles how slavery influenced "Pops" music and values - incorporating blues into gospel music to eventually writing/singing songs with a positive influence on blacks. Their music/songs were [...]
Greg Kot provides an enthusiastic and extensive, historical overview of Mavis Staples' career that is rich with colorful tales about the Civil Rights Movement, the Gospel and R& B music scenes in the 1960s, and the Music Industry (including life on the road and in the studio). Mavis is a national treasure with far-reaching influence, well beyond what this reader had imagined. Kot's writing style is concise and clean, propelling the reader through chapter after chapter. This was a very enjoya [...]
This book was the 2017 One Book, One Chicago selection. As a longtime Chicago resident and a lifetime fan of the Staple Singers, this read was as easy as rolling out of bed for me. I think it would also work well for others as an introduction, a reflection, or a path to deepening an existing appreciation for the Staples. What Greg Kot adds to all of this is the exciting and moving context around the music of the Staples - their role in gospel music and the civil rights movement - as well the rol [...]
It's a pretty straightforward bio with some of Greg Kot's critical responses to music. I don't always agree with his critical conclusions, but that's not unusual. Most interesting are the Staples' early years, first as a strictly gospel act and then as a folk act that participated in the Civil Rights Movement, often opening for their friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
While an important book, I agree that the writing was a bit too technical for my tastes. Would have enjoyed more dirt on the Staples' private lives (isn't that why one reads a biography?) More about the music than Mavis herself, which makes sense considering a music critic wrote it.
Read this because it's CPL's One Book One Chicago choice this year. Interesting history, but like most biographies I've read, it drags a little at times. Nobody is interesting for 100% of their lives.
This was more like a long music review. I would have liked more information about things like Mavis’s mom, how they dealt with her younger sister, how they felt when MLK died. Anything of substance.
Great book about an incredible woman and her family. The Staple Singers were at the heart of decades of amazing music and the heart of the Civil Rights movement. Worth a read.
Loved this book and really enjoyed meeting Greg Kot at our book club gathering. What amazing stories this guy has!
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