For most of her life, Mavis Staples, 80, the legendary gospel-R&B singer, has committed her soulful voice to musical joy and justice, performing on the front lines of our nation’s civil rights struggles. And during the recent SFJazz Gala, Staples, a Grammy winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer (among numerous other accolades) was honored with the cultural organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Following a rousing musical promenade into the Robert N. Miner Auditorium by the Robin Hodge Williams Choir (from Oakland), SFJazz founder-artistic director Randall Kline paid tribute to this petite powerhouse who, in the 1960s, joined Martin Luther King Jr. at his marches with her Staple Family Singers band to sing their “freedom” songs. “This is the house,” Kline toasted, “that could not have been built without your spirit.” The buoyant Staples, who exquisitely sang two songs (including “Change,” from one of the two new albums she recorded in 2019), thanked the sold-out crowd: “Yes, it has been a lifetime; a wonderful lifetime. And God is not through with me yet!” Her spirit has influenced everyone from Bob Dylan and Prince to Ben Harper, along with the gala headliners who sang Staples’ praises at this joyful jam. SFJazz… Read full this story
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