Written by | Ray Cornelius
HBO is closing out Black History Month in a special way with the debut of “MAVIS,” a documentary on the life and music of gospel, R&B, and Civil Rights icon Mavis Staples and her family The Staple Singers. It airs Monday, February 29 at 9 p.m. EST.
The film, which was directed by Jessica Edwards, takes fans and music enthusiasts on a journey through Mavis’ 60+ year career from her humble beginnings in Chicago to her performing “freedom songs” alongside Dr. King in the turbulent South of the 1960’s. The film also chronicles The Staple Singers signing to the legendary Stax Records and Mavis’ crossover success in the 1970’s as an R&B superstar on such hits as “Respect Yourself,” “Let’s Do It Again,” and “I’ll Take You There.”
The film features commentary from a number of Mavis’ industry friends and admires like Chuck D of Public Enemy, Bonnie Raitt, Julian Bond, Sharon Jones as well as her former love interest Bob Dylan, who was turned down by Mavis after he asked her father for her hand in marriage. Fans will also see Mavis’ musical influence on many of today’s pop music icons like Prince, who worked with her on two albums during the 90’s.
According to Edwards, Mavis’ “front stage persona is the same as her backstage persona” and that the 76-year-old vocalist was completely transparent about everything in her life including why she never had children.
“MAVIS” is truly a must see film for those who enjoy hearing the intimate details of a musician’s life and the stories behind some of their biggest hits records. The film also includes rare archival footage and never-before-seen performances like Staples’ version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David‘s “A House is Not a Home.” Most importantly, the film gives props to a woman who deserves the same accolades and adoration that we’ve given to our other queens of R&B, Pop and soul music like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight.
Check out the trailer below and make sure you tune in on Monday, February 29.
Photo Credit: Iris.theaureview.com and MavisFilm.com