Most of her career has been as lead singer for The Staple Singers. She first recorded solo for the Stax subsidiary Volt in 1969. Subsequent efforts included a Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack on Curtom, a nod to disco for Warner Bros. Records in 1979, a stab at electro-pop with Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1984, and a collaboration with Prince in the late 1980s and early 90s (producing the two solo albums Time Waits for No One in 1989 and The Voice in 1993, and various other collaborations). Staples has a rich contralto voice that has neither the range of Aretha Franklin nor the power of Patti LaBelle. Her otherworldly power comes instead from a masterful command of phrasing and a deep-seated sensuality expressed through timbre manipulation. Both the Staple Singers and Mavis found fresh audiences stemming from their participation on the CD Rhythm, Country and Blues, and in 1996 she issued Spirituals and Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson. Her next recording project didn't land for another eight years, although Have a Little Faith on Alligator Records became her highest profile release in years.
Staples released a new album for Anti- Records titled We'll Never Turn Back on April 24, 2007. The Ry Cooder-produced concept album focuses on songs of the civil rights movement and includes two new original songs.
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