The following was originally published at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.
For over six decades, Mavis Staples has spoken out against injustices with her music and activism. Both as a solo artist and a member of the legendary The Staple Singers, Staples has made countless contributions to the canon of socially conscious music.
Still going strong at 79 years of age, she released the album, “Live in London,” on February 8, 2019. A follow-up, “We Get By,” is due out on May 10.
The album’s cover features a 1956 photo from the late photographer and civil rights activist Gordon Parks, entitled “Outside Looking In.” While progress has been made, the poignant visual highlights how there still is a long way to go.
The album was produced by Ben Harper, who is also no stranger to socially conscious music. Harper previously collaborated with Staples on the 2016 tune, “Love and Trust,” which appeared on her 2016 album, “Livin’ on a High Note.” Harper wrote the eleven songs on the album.
“These songs are delivering such a strong message. We truly need to make a change if we want this world to be better,” Staples said.
Appropriately, the album’s lead single is “Change,” a bluesy call to action which highlights issues such as inequality and gun violence (“Fingers on the trigger around here/ Bullets flying, mothers crying / We gotta change around here”).
Mavis Staples is an important artist whose music bridges the gap between the past and present. She continues to pave the way for current and future generations of socially conscious musicians.