Mavis Staples brought some serious soul and timely social consciousness to last weekend’s Coachella Festival with a rocking performance that has the 76-year-old legend being hailed as one of the festival’s standout performances.
Vibe called her “the flyest 76 year old’ at Coachella” and proclaimed “Ms. Staples hasn’t lost a step” while the LA Times said she “offered a rich (and timeless) history lesson.”
In a rollicking set that had people of all ages dancing and smiling, Staples and band delivered a mix of seventies hits like “"I'll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself,” songs from her acclaimed new M. Ward-produced album Livin’ On A High Note, and even a Talking Head’s cover--plus a snippet of Sia’s “Chandelier.” Mavis’ beaming personality was in fine form as she joked about the audience’s comparative youth and the desert winds. “I’m choking on Choke-chella,” she laughed. Be sure to catch her encore performance at this week’s Coachella Festival on Friday, April 22 at 2:10pm PDT.
This summer, Mavis will be joining none other than Bob Dylan for a series of North American concert dates. As is, it’s been an exhilarating few months for the soul and gospel legend with the release of her critically-heralded new album Livin' On A High Note and the premiere of the documentary “Mavis!” on HBO. Mavis and Dylan have a long and storied history, having both appeared at the historic 1963 Newport Folk Festival and The Band’s Last Waltz in 1978, and having garnered a 2004 GRAMMY®-nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for their duet “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking.“
On Staples’ new M. Ward-produced Livin' on a High Note, the singer performs an assortment of songs written for just for her by some of today’s greatest songwriters including Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, Neko Case, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Benjamin Booker, Aloe Blacc and others.
Acclaim For Mavis Staples’ Coachella Set:
“The venerable 76-year-old soul singer's Friday 2 p.m. Gobi Tent set served as a stellar daylight entree to a long, dusty weekend. Staples has still got powerful pipes and an even more powerful stage presence.” - LA Weekly
“It felt like a landmark set, and in the middle of the afternoon. There were some classics — “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There,” along with “Freedom Highway,” which saw Staples dig down deep with her high-mileage voice to belt the anthem, written by her father Pop Staples in 1962, about the civil rights mark from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. ‘I was there and I’m still here,’ she explained. ‘I’m a witness … I’m a soldier.’” – Buzzbands LA
“When she hollered "I won't turn around," with her foot firmly planted at the front of the stage, she sounded louder and more urgent than the typical festival fare. "I'm still fighting," Staples said after the song ended. "I'm a soldier.” - LA Times
“She embodies all the best elements of gospel, soul, R&B and social commentary into her songs and hasn’t sounded better in 2016. Mavis is someone who has been performing and recording music for longer than a lot of Coachella acts even existed. With screams from fans who were all visibly moved by her set, Ms. Staples made her mark on the desert festival as she lit the place up with a gleaming smile. Ms. Staples hasn’t lost a step.” - Vibe
“Best Impromptu Cover … As she fired up that rich, raspy growl to preach about peace and love over the airy R&B of Staple Singers' "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)," Mighty Mavis seemed beamed in from another era, hoop earrings swinging as she shook her finger at imaginary haters and raised an open palm to the sky.” – Rolling Stone
“Mavis Staples got the crowd to sing along to her classic “I’ll Take You There.” Even in her seventies, Staples is a ball of energy, joking about how many fans at Coachella weren’t born when the hit was recorded.” – The Wall Street Journal