I’ve been in love with Mavis Staples ever since I first heard her singing into my ear while huddled under covers in my bedroom a few decades back. Never cared to see her, mind you; just the way her voice surged through a transistor radio, telling me to Respect Myself with a throaty roar that surged even further, in the coming years, with the Staples Singers’ even greater “I’ll Take You There.” We’re talking Aretha with even more urgency, Ronnie Spector with added maturity, everything that Janis was ever-ready to deliver without any of the scary brassiness or careening.
Years later, she dominated even the eternally dominant Prince, taking his “Melody Cool,” along with a couple of follow-up albums that he produced for her directly, to even-greater heights than one might have expected from her earlier work. By then, Staples was into her 50s, and it had become known in certain circles that her vocal charms had also been enough to draw a request for her hand in marriage from no less a suitor than Bob Dylan.
Never mind all that, or the ways in which time pushes us all into regrets over time. Mavis is back in all our lives again – and available, at least for one night hereabouts, when she plays the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie on Friday, January 20. We let you know this now because…well, tickets for hit items like Staples tend to go fast.
Staples is on a streak these days, having won a Grammy this past year for her Jeff Tweedy-produced Americana gem You Are Not Alone, her 2010 tear-down-the-roof performance at the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, DC and her regular inclusion in (and accolades from) the nation’s top new music fests each summer. Me, I’m ready, finally, to hear her outside the covers of my teenage bedclothes.
For tickets to the Mavis Staples concert at the Bardavon on Friday, January 20, visit the old Opera House’s box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, call (845) 473-2072 or visit www.bardavon.org.