Happy Birthday Mavis Staples: The Band’s ‘Last Waltz’

 Photo by Chris Strong

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Chicago-born legendary vocalist Mavis Staples celebrates her 77nd birthday today. Showing no signs of slowing down, Staples issued a new solo album earlier this year and this summer is on tour with fellow legend Bob Dylan. In honor of the acclaimed vocalist’s special day today, here’s a look back at an iconic performance Mavis offered as part of The Band’s famed The Last Waltz concert film.

Mavis began her career in the family gospel group The Staples Singers alongside her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples and sisters Cleotha and Yvonne Staples. They rose to success with such hits as “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” and were among the many guests The Band selected to appear in their 1976 Martin Scorsese-directed feature.

Recorded on a Hollywood soundstage separate from the concert held on Thanksgiving night at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, The Staples Singers joined The Band on a rendition of “The Weight.” Trading verses with Levon Helm, Rick Danko and “Pops” Staples, Mavis shined when given the spotlight, providing a powerful performance alongside her siblings and father. Watch the collaboration here:

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