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Album of the Week – ‘Livin’ on a High Note’ by Mavis Staples

‘Livin’ on a High Note’ by Mavis Staples is Eastside Radio’s Album of the Week.

The genre defining songstress presents a joyous release continuing her legacy of discussing spirituality, socially driven change, and the power of love. With a career spanning over six decades that has included protesting alongside Dr. Martin Luther King as well as inspiring fellow musical powerhouses Prince and Bob Dylan, it’s incredible to think an artist of her caliber would even consider recording another album. The album was a highly collaborative process, with a large ensemble of thirteen talented musicians featuring the likes of  Trombone Shorty and Vicki Randle. The writing process was no different, utilising veterans of the industry to younger artists such as Nick Cave and Benjamin Booker to Aloe Blacc. It was this environment of diverse talent that transformed this release into a melting pot of fresh ideas, led by the  experience of Staples having had a very clear picture of the album she envisioned to release. It’s in this mix that the artist ultimately found the new and invigorated perspective on her story that has kept the album fresh and inspiring for crowds both of enduring fandom and for those newly acquainted to her music and history.

Here what Staples had to say about the process:

“I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new,” says Mavis. “I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”

Artist Listing –

Mavis Staples: vocals
M. Ward: backing vocals, acoustic guitar, organ, synthesiser,
Donny Gerrard: backing vocals (main vox Tk 9)
Vicki Randle: backing vocals
Rick Holmstrom: electric guitar
Jeff Turmes: bass
Stephen Hodges: drums

Sean Billings: trumpet (Tk 3, 7, 11)
Nathaniel Walcott: trumpet (Tk 3, 7, 11)
Alex Budman: tenor saxophone (Tk 3, 7 (also on flute), 11)
David Moyer: baritone saxophone (Tk 3, 7, 11)
Humberto Ruiz Jr.: trombone (Tk 3, 7, 11)

Tucker Martine: tambourine (Tk 7)
Trombone Shorty: trombone (Tk 7)

Track Listing

1.Take Us Back – Written by Benjamin Booker

2.Love and Turst – Written by Ben Harper / BMG Gold Songs/Three Chord Symphony Music (ASCAP)

3.Don’t Cry – Written by M. Ward

4.Jesus, Lay Down Beside Me – Written by Nick Cave

5.Action – Written by Merrill Garbus

6.High Note – Written by Valerie June

7.Tomorrow – Written by E. Nathaniel Dawkins III & Jon Batiste

8.Dedicated – Music by Music by Justin Vernon / April Base Publishing (ASCAP), Written by M. Ward / Crooked Spine Music (ASCAP)

9.History, Now – Written by Neko Case, Laura Veirs and Donny Gerrard

10.One Love – Written By Aaron Livingston

11.If It’s A Light – Written By Charity Rose Thielen

12.MLK Song – Music by M. Ward / Crooked Spine Music (ASCAP), words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and adapted by M. Ward

You can follow Mavis Staples’ career via her FACEBOOK page, or at http://www.mavisstaples.com/. Be sure to tune in this week to 89.7FM EASTSIDE RADIO for your chance to WIN a copy of ‘Livin’ on a High Note’ by Mavis StaplesYou must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. Don’t forget you can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG.


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