Yvonne Staples, singer-manager with the Staple Singers, dies aged 80

Mavis Staples’ sister joined the family band in 1971 and sang on their biggest hits, such as Let’s Do It Again and I’ll Take You There

Yvonne Staples, who sang alongside her family in the gospel-soul group the Staple Singers, has died aged 80, of colon cancer she was diagnosed with just two weeks ago.

She died at home in the South Shore area of Chicago, in the care of her siblings Mavis and Pervis Staples – all three sang in the group at various points, along with their late father Roebuck “Pops” Staples and late sister Cleotha Staples.

The Staple Singers formed in 1948, and first released music in 1958. In these early days of the group, Yvonne helped with the band’s business matters, but graduated to a singing role after Pervis was drafted into the US army and Cleotha took time out to get married. From 1971, she performed with the group as they went from the socially conscious work of the 1960s to their most commercial period with Stax Records. Yvonne sang on hits including Respect Yourself, I’ll Take You There and Let’s Do It Again, the latter two reaching the top of the US charts.

Listen to the Staple Singers performing Let’s Do It Again

Yvonne went on to provide backing vocals for her sister Mavis after she began a successful solo career, and also worked as her manager. Mavis once credited Yvonne for restarting her career after the death of their father in 2000 left her depressed and unmotivated. “Yvonne said, ‘Mavis, your daddy would want you to keep singing. You’ve got to get up. You’re daddy’s legacy.’ … And that’s when she started with the other words: ‘Damn it, Mavis,’ and worse. It woke me up.”


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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