Bumbershoot 2011, Saturday: Mavis Staples

photos by Dave Lichterman

The sun had gone down on the Starbucks Stage by the time legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples came on at 9:30 PM. In front of a chorus of suited backup signers, she turned the audience relaxing on the lawn in front of the Mural Amphitheater into her own personal congregation. Her voice was deep, booming, and soulful as she passionately belted out one feel-good hymn after another, from the title track off her 2010 Jeff Tweedy-produced release You Are Not Alone, to an incredible cover of The Band classic “The Weight.” In between songs, she would preach about everything from Obama, to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, to what it means to be an American. All in all, it was one Saturday’s most memorable performances, and certainly qualified as the audience’s weekly religious experience.

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