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Mavis Staples announces Jeff Tweedy collaboration If All I Was Was Black

Mavis Staples | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

XPN Fest veterans and longtime friends Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco) have collaborated together a few times before, but the just-announced If All I Was Was Black is a particularly special project. Slated for a November 17 release on Anti- Records, the 10-track album was produced and written by Tweedy, with vocalist Staples contributing to the lyrics on three tracks. In addition to being the first full-length of original material the the two have worked on together, If All I Was Was Black takes on a political tone, addressing racial tension in a way that advocates for spreading love and positivity. Continue reading →

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Listen to alternate versions of Arcade Fire / Mavis Staples collab “I Give You Power,” benefitting the ACLU

arcade fire
Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Following up on last week’s “I Give You Power” collaboration with Mavis Staples, Arcade Fire have shared two new versions of the single – a full instrumental cut and a choppier “Broken Speaker” remix. The song (and the “alternative songs”) marks the Canadian outfit’s first new material since 2013’s Reflektor and benefits the American Civil Liberties Union.

Continue reading →

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Arcade Fire enlists Mavis Staples for their first new song in four years

Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Canadian art rock juggernaut Arcade Fire is back with its first new music since 2013’s Reflektor — and it enlists the vocal talents of livin’ legend Mavis Staples trading verses with frontman Win Butler in a call-and-response: “I give you power / I can take it away.” The song rides a skittery ominous electro-funk bump in the vein of Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile and Prince, with some deeply charged Sly & the Family Stone roots. The combined vibe is pointed, punchy and overall incredible. Listen below.

(h/t Pitchfork)

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XPN Fest Recap: Mavis Staples takes us there with a powerful River Stage performance

Mavis Staples | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Mavis Staples | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

After singing “Freedom Highway,” Mavis Staples shared the story behind the song written by her father in 1962. “Pops Staples wrote that song for the big march,” she told us of the iconic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. “I was there, and I’m still here…I’m a living witness, a soldier!” she said. Staples went on to say that she’s part of an army of love, fighting for hope and peace.

It was a well-timed moment from a timeless musician. In a weekend where one performer told the festival faithful that the evils of the world were the reasoning behind him cutting his performance short, Staples took the opposite approach. She provided the antidote to the evils of the world, a performance full of heart and happiness. The 77-year-old used every ounce of soul in her to put together a show even better than what her household reputation called for. Continue reading →

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Mavis Staples added to XPoNential Music Festival lineup, daily set times announced

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples | Photo by Chris Strong | courtesy of the artist

Just last night she joined Bob Dylan at The Mann, and now we are pleased to inform you that Mavis Staples has been added to the lineup of our annual XPoNential Music Festival. The soul-singing legend will play the River Stage in Wiggins Park on Sunday, July 24th. Staples had her first hit in 1957 and released an album this year. Yes, you read that correctly. It seems like nothing can stop the 76-year-old, so when it comes to last minute additions, it doesn’t get much better than this. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Wildhoney at Boot & Saddle, Restorations at Johnny Brenda’s, Mavis Staples at Berks Jazz Fest and more…

wildhoney
Wildhoney | photo by Zach Inscho | courtesy of the artist

Baltimore outfit Wildhoney bring last year’s Your Face Sideways to Boot & Saddle tonight. The album blends bright indie pop with refracted shoegaze for a collection of songs that sound like a prism sitting in sunlight. Listen to “Laura” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here.

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Livin’ legend Mavis Staples to grace Berks Jazz Fest

Mavis Staples | Photo by Chris Strong | courtesy of the artist
Mavis Staples | Photo by Chris Strong | courtesy of the artist

There’s only one Mavis.  By this point in her storied, singular career, Mavis Staples’ legacy as a soul music legend and civil rights activist is well past secure.  Her iconic, imitable voice, sixty years on from scoring her first gospel hit with the Staple Singers in 1957, remains a vital, “could sing the phone book”-type national treasure.  But the 76-year-old – who’ll light up Scottish Rite Cathedral as part of the Berks Jazz Fest this Friday, before returning to Philly this summer to open for old flame Bobby Dylan at the Mann – shows no signs of slowing down or resting on her laurels. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “High Note” by Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples | Photo courtesy of the artist
Mavis Staples | Photo courtesy of the artist

Legendary R&B singer Mavis Staples is releasing her new album, Livin’ On A High Note on February 19th. Produced by singer-songwriter M. Ward, who has a new solo album of his own coming out on March 4th, the Staples collection features Mavis singing songs written by an all-star cast of collaborators. Aside from M. Ward, High Note features songs by Neko Case, Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, Tune-Yards, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart, and Philly’s Son Little. Continue reading →