Mavis Staples
By Elon Green

The last eight months—roughly the amount of time since Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration—haven’t smothered Mavis Staples’s irrepressible optimism, but it’s been palpably tempered. She faced dark days even before the election in 2016, when Prince died that April. Staples’s feelings for Prince, her friend and onetime producer, bordered on maternal: he had two mothers, she once said, and she would e-mail him with the greeting “Hello, son!” “Oh, Lord, I miss Prince so much. I can hardly listen to him yet without breaking down,” she told me recently, briefly home from the road. Staples has photos of Prince in her house in Chicago, including a wall calendar from 1987 given to her by the man himself. “It’s from back in the day. But I keep it hanging and every month I change it.”

Prince’s love for the Staple Singers, the legendary gospel group, was genuine and deep. He opened his last concert, a week before he died, with “When Will We Be Paid,” a gorgeous, denunciatory song off the family’s 1970 album, “We’ll Get Over.” The lyrics catalogue the labor of black Americans (“We have worked this country from shore to shore / Our women cooked all your food and washed all your clothes”). When Pops Staples performed it, he would recall his grandfather, who had been a slave in Mississippi. Prince recorded “When Will We Be Paid” in October of 1999. He sent the track to Mavis, and she took the song to her father. Pops, who would be dead in a year, asked excitedly if Prince had really recorded it. “Yes, sir,” she said.

 

Read the full article here: Mavis Staples on Prince, Trump, Black Lives Matter, and Her Exercise Regimen | The New Yorker