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I'll Take You There

I'll Take You There

Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom's Highway

This is the untold story of living legend Mavis Staples—lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era. Now in her seventies, Mavis has been a fixture in the music world for decades. One of the most enduring artists of popular music, she and her family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song. Honing her prodigious talent on the Southern gospel circuit of the 1950s, Mavis and the Staple Singers went on to sell more than 30 million records, with message-oriented soul music that became a sound track to the civil rights movement—inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. himself.

Critically acclaimed biographer and Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot cuts to the heart of Mavis Staples’s music, revealing the intimate stories of her sixty-year career. From her love affair with Bob Dylan, to her creative collaborations with Prince, to her recent revival alongside Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, this definitive account shows Mavis as you’ve never seen her before. I’ll Take You There was written with the complete cooperation of Mavis and her family. Readers will also hear from Prince, Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne, Marty Stuart, Ry Cooder, Steve Cropper, and many other individuals whose lives have been influenced by Mavis’s talent.

Filled with never-before-told stories, this fascinating biography illuminates a legendary singer and group during a historic period of change in America.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451647877 | 
  • January 2014
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Read an Excerpt

I’ll Take You There Prologue

“Freedom Highway” in sequined flats
I’m tired and I’m feeble,” declares Mavis Staples, with a high-beam smile that says exactly the opposite.

Mavis pretends to shuffle into the room as though a step away from collapse while paraphrasing Thomas Dorsey’s “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” a song that has been with her since she started to stir church congregations as an... see more

About the Author

Greg Kot
photograph by Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune

Greg Kot

Greg Kot has been the music critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990. Kot is co-host of the nationally syndicated public radio program Sound Opinions, and the author of several books, including Wilco: Learning How to Die; and Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music. He lives in Chicago.

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