Results for Martin Luther King Jr.

interviews

Mavis Staples

It's not often we get to share a room with a genuine national treasure. Jim and Greg were honored to speak with gospel and soul legend and Civil Rights icon Mavis Staples. (Greg is also the author of Mavis's 2014 biography I'll Take You There). Beginning her career at age eleven as the lead singer of her family band The Staple Singers, Mavis has inspired countless artists over the past half century.

Her father Pops Staples learned guitar at the feet of Charley Patton in Dockery Farms, Mississippi before moving to Chicago. There, he formed The Staple Singers, a gospel vocal group featuring his children – Pervis, Cleotha, Yvonne, and Mavis taking the lead. The combination of Pops's blues guitar, Cleotha's counterpoint, and Mavis's precociously powerful voice launched them into national attention with their 1956 hit "Uncloudy Day." Soon, the Staple Singers were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, often serving as the opening act to Martin Luther King, Jr. (We'll cover that period in more detail in a second episode with Mavis).

The group had its greatest success once it signed to Stax Records and began recording with the famed session musicians in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on hits like "I'll Take You There." That's also when Mavis began her solo career – reluctantly at first, but still going as strong as ever today. Her latest album Livin' on a High Note found her working with songwriters like Nick Cave, tUnE-yArDs, and Neko Case. Mavis offers Jim and Greg an intimate look at growing up on Chicago's South Side, forming the Staple Singers' signature sound, meeting Mahalia Jackson, and collaborating with Curtis Mayfield and Prince.

Go to episode 593
reviews
We'll Never Turn BackWe'll Never Turn Back available on iTunes

Mavis Staples We'll Never Turn Back

Mavis Staples' new album, We'll Never Turn Back, is up next. Inspired by current racial violence and tension, the Staples Singers vocalist was joined by Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner, and members of The Freedom Singers to make an update of the civil rights music of the 1960s. This is a perfect fit for Mavis. Her father, Pops Staples, steered their family toward freedom songs, and eventually the Staples Singers became Martin Luther King, Jr.'s favorite group. The result is something that pays respect to the past, but is very relevant in the present. Jim gives the credit to Mavis. He thinks she is completely underrated and calls her a“national treasure.”He wishes that Mavis and the band were doing more shows in support of the album and gives it a Buy It. Greg goes even further by naming We'll Never Turn Back the best album of 2007 — and it's only May! He commands listeners to Buy It for themselves and everyone they know.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
lists

Protest Songs

August 28, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech "I Have a Dream." And when Jim and Greg look back at that era, the music stands out as much as the marches and words. During this segment they talk about the role music played in the struggle for civil rights and how gospel and folk influences found their way into the pop charts. Jim and Greg also speak with legendary disc jockey Herb Kent about working at WVON (Voice of the Negro) during this time. Here are the protest songs Jim and Greg highlight:

  1. "Driva Man" by Max Roach & Oscar Brown Jr. featuring Abbey Lincoln, 1960
  2. "How I Got Over" performed by Mahalia Jackson at the March on Washington, 1963
  3. "In the Mississippi River" by the Freedom Singers, 1965
  4. "Mississippi Goddamn" performed by Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall, 1964
  5. "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, 1964
  6. "Keep On Pushing" by The Impressions, 1964
  7. "Freedom Highway" by The Staple Singers, 1965
  8. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" performed by Kim Weston at Wattstax, 1972
Go to episode 404

Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Music

When you think about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, perhaps the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr. or the horrific images of Emmett Till come to mind. But, for Jim and Greg, the music equally lingers. Songs by Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke and more captured the mood and inspired action. Here are some that continue to resonate:

  1. "Driva Man" by Max Roach & Oscar Brown Jr. featuring Abbey Lincoln, 1960
  2. "How I Got Over" performed by Mahalia Jackson at the March on Washington, 1963
  3. "In the Mississippi River" by the Freedom Singers, 1965
  4. "Mississippi Goddamn" performed by Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall, 1964
  5. "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, 1964
  6. "Keep On Pushing" by The Impressions, 1964
  7. "Freedom Highway" by The Staple Singers, 1965
  8. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" performed by Kim Weston at Wattstax, 1972
Go to episode 534