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Eleanor D. Branch

gospel singer, was born in Chicago, the daughter of Roebuck “Pops” Staples, who held a variety of blue collar jobs including work in construction and meatpacking, and Oceola Staples, at one point a laundry supervisor at a Chicago hotel. Born after her parents migrated to Chicago from Mississippi, Staples grew up in an environment marked by a strong sense of faith and family. She was a child in kindergarten when her parents discovered the power in her voice. That power was subsequently honed by her exposure to a wide variety of music including the blues and soul, but especially to gospel.As a youngster, Staples and her sister, Yvonne often spent part of the year in Mound Bayou Mississippi visiting their grandmother In this small town Mavis gained a deep appreciation for the link between music and spirituality Yet it wasn t until she was eight ...

Article

Diane Epstein

Mavis Staples spoke affectionately about her dad, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, as her first and major source of inspiration. Roebuck Staples moved to Chicago from Mississippi in 1935 with his wife, Oceola, their daughter, Cleotha, and son, Pervis. Three more children were born in Chicago, including Mavis in 1940. Chicago became home base for the family. It was not just music that tied the family together but their strong religious beliefs and their commitment to the church.

Staples had two other strong influences in her life. The person who affected her in her formative years was another extraordinary gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson Staples loved to tell the story of how they met and became longtime personal and professional friends Roebuck Staples introduced his daughter to Jackson s singing by way of her radio performances Staples was only about eight but she knew when she listened that this was ...