BOONE, NC — The Schaefer Center Presents (SCP) series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, features the iconic Mavis Staples, who will kick off the spring series on Feb. 25 at 7pm. Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” and recently named #46 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 200 Greatest Singers of All Time, the pioneering rhythm and blues and gospel singer brings her powerful message and equally mighty voice to the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts for a one-night-only experience. For tickets, visit TheSchaeferCenter.org or call the Box Office at 828.262.4046.
Pitchfork magazine asserts that the three-time Grammy winner’s “voice has only gained texture and power over the years.” While People magazine declares that she “provides the comfort of a higher power.” On the eve of her 80th birthday a few years ago, Ms. Staples said, “I’m the messenger. That’s my job — it has been for my whole life — and I can’t just give up while the struggle’s still alive. We’ve got more work to do, so I’m going to keep on getting stronger and keep on delivering my message every single day.”
That message — a clarion call to love, faith, justice, brotherhood, and joy — lies at the heart of 2019’s We Get By, Staples’ 12th studio album and first full-length collaboration with multi-Grammy Award winner Ben Harper. Backed by her longtime touring band, Staples’ youthful vigor and commanding maturity breathes extraordinary life into Harper’s spare but weighty compositions. She seizes the opportunity to showcase her remarkable and continued evolution as an artist, one still growing and exploring more than half a century into her storied career. We Get By arrived in the face of deep social divisions and heightened political tensions, but like everything Staples touches, it’s also larger than any particular moment, a timeless appeal to the better angels of our nature and unwavering in its assurance of better things to come.
“When I first started reading the lyrics Ben wrote for me,’ recalls Staples, “I said to myself, ‘My God, he’s saying everything that needs to be said right now.’ But the songs were also true to my journey and the stories I’ve been singing all my life. There’s a spirituality and an honesty to Ben’s writing that took me back to church.”
Her most recent release is 2022’s Carry Me Home, a gospel/folk/country/soul collaboration with American roots rock drummer Levon Helm, captured live in 2011, a year before Helm’s death. Critics are singing the album’s praises. “Carry Me Home rocks, rolls, thumps, grooves, growls, and shouts its way through a dozen classics,” describes Americana Highways. And The Guardian proclaims, “On poignant yet defiant recordings, Staples’ commanding vocals give enormous vibrancy to blues, folk and soul standards.”
Staples is an alchemist of American music, the kind of once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to overstate. She’s both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a Grammy Award winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and sang in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s collaborated with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire and Hozier, blown away countless festivalgoers from Newport Folk and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, performed with The Band at The Last Waltz, and graced the airwaves on (Jimmy) Fallon, (Stephen) Colbert, Ellen (DeGeneres), Austin City Limits, Jools Holland, the Grammys, and more.
Tickets: $40 Adults, $35 App State Faculty/Staff, $20 Students
Discounts are offered for students for all shows, as well as for App State faculty/staff and/or locals of Watauga, Ashe, and Avery counties. Purchase tickets at theschaefercenter.org, in person at the Schaefer Center box office (733 Rivers Street), or by calling 828-262-4046.
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