Soul And / Or Related Artists
the staples singers

The Staples Singers

This U.S. family gospel group consisted of:

Roebuck 'Pops' Staples (b. 28th December 1915, Winona, Mississippi, U.S.A. d. 19th December 2000, Dolton, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

and four of his children:

Mavis Staples (b. 10th July 1939, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Pervis Staples (b. 18th November 1935, Drew, Mississippi, U.S.A. d. 6th May 2021, Dolton, Illinois, U.S.A.)

Cleotha 'Cleedi' Staples (b. 11th April 1934, Drew, Mississippi, U.S.A. d. 21st February 2013, Chicago, illinois, U.S.A.)


Yvonne Staples (b. 23rd October 1938, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

The Staples Singers are, probably, the best known Gospel family, recording spiritual and secular music, over the last 50 years.

The group consisted of the father, Pops Staples, along with his four children, Mavis, Cleotha, Pervis and Yvonne.

Roebuck 'Pops' Staples is born in Winona, Mississippi in 1915.

He grew up in nearby Drew, dropping out of school after the 8th grade, in order to pick cotton at Dockery's plantation.

When he was 16 years old, he joined the Golden Trumpets, who were a local a gospel quartet.

In 1935, Roebuck relocated from Mississippi and moved to Chicago with his wife Oceala.

By 1948, Pops and his children Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis Staples (Mavis, then 7 years old, sang the bass parts) began performing at churches in the Chicago area, where they had all been living since 1936.

The Staples Singers

They signed their first recording contract in 1952, and the following year, they recorded a 78 rpm single entitled, 'These They Are' b/w 'Faith and Grace', pressing the vinyl on their own Royal imprint (Royal 105).

It Rained ChildrenI Had A Dream

it rained children - 1954 single / i had a dream - 1958 single

In 1954, the group recorded a gospel song called 'It Rained Children' b/w 'Won't You Sit Down' for the Chicago-based United Label.

Four years later, Yvonne Staples joined the group, filling in as her brother Pervis’s replacement during his two-year stint in the U.S. Army.

Uncloudy DaySwing Low, Sweet Chariot

uncloudy day - 1959 / swing low, sweet chariot - 1961

By 1960, the group had reached the peak of the Gospel charts with the song 'Uncloudy Day' for the Veejay imprint.

Hammer & NailsSwing Low

hammer and nails - 1962 / swing low - 1962

In 1962, the group signed with Riverside Records, for a four album series of Gospel releases.

The album 'The Land' was released in 1963, which contained their take on the Bob Dylan song 'Blowin' In The Wind'.

25th Day Of DecemberAmen!

the 25th day of december - 1962 / amen! - 1965

By 1965, they relocated to Epic Records, and began releasing more socially aware material, reflecting the Civil Rights Movement of that era.

'Amen' was the first of the politically aware releases.

Freedom HighwaySoul Folk In Action

freedom highway - 1965 / soul folk in action - 1968

In 1967, they reached number 95 on the charts with 'Why (Am I Treated So Bad)'.

Will The Circle Be Broken?The Landlord

will the circle be broken? - 1969 / the landlord - 1970

The same year, their cover of Buffalo Springfield’s 'For What It’s Worth' (written by Stephen Stills) reached number 66 on Billboard’s pop singles chart.

We'll Get OverThe Staples Swingers

we'll get over - 1970 / the staples swingers - 1971

Be Altitude: Respect YourselfBe What You Are

be attitude: respect yourself - 1972 / be what you are - 1973

A year later saw the Staples Singers relocate to the Memphis based Stax Records label, which began their most successful period artistically.

They were to remain at the label until 1974.

Al Bell had become the producer, along with the engineer, Terry Manning, the family began recording at the famed Muscle Shoals studio, and Memphis' Ardent Studio, moving in a more funk and soul direction.

Their intial Stax success came in 1971 with the hit song 'Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na- Boom Boom)', which reached number 27 in the charts.

'Respect Yourself' (written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice) reached number 2 that year on the R & B charts and number 12 pop.

'In 1972, 'I’ll Take You There' topped both the pop and R & B charts, remaining at number 1 on the R & B chart for four weeks.

Wattstax at Wattstax

They also performed at the famous Wattstax concert, which was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum on the 20th of August 1972.

1973 saw 'If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)' make number 9 on the pop charts.

City In The SkyLet's Do It Again

city in the sky - 1974 / let's do it again - 1975

By 1975, following Stax's bankruptcy, the Staples Singers had relocated again to Curtis Mayfield's own Curtom label, where they released 'Let’s Do It Again', which made number 1 on the R & B chart.

Pass It OnUnlock Your Mind

pass it on - 1976 / unlock the funk - 1978

In 1976, they collaborated with The Band on the song 'The Weight' for the rock group's film 'The Last Waltz'.

Hold On To Your DreamThis Time Around

hold on to my dream - 1981 / this time around - 1981

Turning PointThe Staples Singers

turning point - 1984 / the staples singers - 1985

In 1981, Fantasy Records (who now owned the Stax back catalogue) released 'This Time Around', which featured the song 'Trippin' On Your Love', later becoming popular on the House music scene in the late Eighties.

In the mid Eighties, The Staple Singers’ version of the Talking Heads’ 'Slippery People' reached number 22 on the R & B chart in 1984.

Their 1985, self titled set, contained another Talking Heads song, entitled 'Life During Wartime'.

Mavis Staples also recorded a single entitled 'Love Gone Bad' recorded for an independent label, called 'Phono Records', in 1985.

In 1987, Mavis released 'Time Waits For No-One', an album recorded with a long time fan of the group, Prince.

In 1992, BeBe & CeCe Winans reached number 90 with their take on 'Ill Take You There', which featured Mavis Staples.

In 1993, Mavis Staples released her second album collaboration with Prince entitled, ‘The Voice’, for Prince’s Paisley Park label.

The Staples Singers song, 'Respect Yourself', was used by Spike Lee in the soundtrack to his movie, 'Crooklyn', made in 1994.

In 1995, Pops Staples received a Grammy Award for ‘Father Father’, released the previous year.

The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, at the fourteenth annual induction dinner.

On the 19th of December 2000, Roebuck 'Pops' Staples died in his sleep.

In 2013, Clotha also passed away.

Staples Singers

Real Player


Uncloudy Day (Vee-Jay Records 1959)

Swing Low (Vee-Jay Records 1961)

Gospel Program (Epic Records 1961)

Hammers And Nails (Epic Records 1962)

Great Day (Epic Records 1963)

25th Day Of December (Epic Records 1963)

Spirituals (Epic Records 1965)

Amen (Epic Records 1965)

Freedom Highway (Epic Records 1965)

Why (Epic Records 1966)

This Little Light (Epic Records 1966)

For What It's Worth (Epic Records 1967)

Amen (Epic Records 1967)

Staple Singers (Epic Records 1968)

Pray On (Epic Records 1968)

Soul Folk In Action (Stax Records 1968)

We'll Get Over (Stax Records 1970)

I Had A Dream (Stax Records 1970)

Heavy Makes You Happy (Stax Records 1971)

The Staple Swingers (Stax Records 1971)

Bealitude: Respect Yourself (Stax Records 1972)

Be What You Are (Stax Records 1973)

Use What You Got (Stax Records 1973)

City In The Sky (Stax Records 1974)

Let's Do It Again (film soundtrack) (Curtom Records 1975)

Pass It On (Curtom Records 1976)

Family Tree (Warner Brothers Records 1977)

Unlock Your Mind (Warner Brothers Records 1978)

Hold On To Your Dream (20th Century Records 1981)

This Time Around (Stax Records 1981)

Turning Point (Epic Records 1984)

The Staples Singers (Epic Records 1985)

Sit Down Servant (Nashboro Records 1991)

Swingline (Nashboro Records 1991)

top of the page


SoulwalkingStart HereThe ArtistsListen Out ForThe ChartBeen MissedRespectReal AudioOpinionNetworkJazz & FusionLinksMotown