Who knew? Thanks to Tim Sampson of the Stax Museum and Academy in Memphis, I now know that the legendary Mavis Staples is performing in New York on Sunday at 7pm–for free, too! Mavis will be at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors concert on Hearst Plaza at 7pm on Sunday night. Mavis and her family–the Staples Singers–are famous for their great hits “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself,” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)”– all from Stax’s early 70s second run. Recently Mavis performed at the Kennedy Center with Sam Moore and a bunch of stars for the four living presidents. The Staples Singers were early inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Mavis’s show follows a great afternoon of soul and gospel music. At 3:30pm, Sampson is coming with the Stax Music Academy kids from Memphis. I like to think of Stax as the anti-Motown–the real, unvarnished soul.
When we filmed in Memphis in 1999 for “Only the Strong Survive,” the former Stax studios were reduced to a vacant lot filled with weeds. Now there’s a gorgeous, vital museum on the grounds. A music academy for kids has grown there, too. This fall, a new charter school is opening next door. The students from the academy will perform on the Plaza with Stax royalty: Vaneese Thomas, the famed singer, sister of Carla Thomas and daughter of Rufus Thomas. Vaneese is one of New York’s vocal treasures, performing with Aretha Franklin, Nile Rodgers, and producer Phil Ramone all the time. Following the kids, and before Mavis, Vy Higginsen is bringing her Gospel for Teens down from Harlem. What a day! And it’s free! http://www.lcoutofdoors.org/