The reader interview: post your questions for Candi Staton

Kicking off a new weekly series, where readers pose questions for film and music stars, is the 81-year-old queen of soul and disco heartbreak

We are launching a new weekly Guardian feature called The Reader Interview, published online, and in print in our Film & Music section. Each week our readers – you! – will become the interviewers, posting questions for a film or music star.

Our first interviewee is Candi Staton, the 81-year-old singer whose career stretches back to 1953, when she began recording gospel songs in a vocal trio as a teenager. She switched to secular music in the 1960s, and her soul recordings are some of the most powerful and emotionally complex of the era.

Her version of In the Ghetto prompted Elvis Presley to write to her with praise and astonishment; her take on Stand By Your Man is even more forthright than Tammy Wynette’s; and original songs such as Too Hurt To Cry and I’m Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’) tell such stark, uncomfortable truths about heartbreak.

Unlike soul peers who stumbled during the advent of disco, Staton performed one of the genre’s defining hits – Young Hearts Run Free (1976) – and had another UK Top 10 hit with the strutting funk of Nights of Broadway the following year.

In the 1980s she returned to gospel and recorded a string of albums, but it was a God-praising funk track she recorded in this period for a documentary about weight loss that would become her biggest hit. The original You Got the Love flopped on its 1986 release, but various remixes and mashups – plus a barnstorming Florence & the Machine cover – have turned it into an enduring club anthem.

A self-titled 2004 compilation reintroduced her soul tracks to a new generation, and she has continued to regularly record high-quality albums, including a true classic in 2006: His Hands, featuring collaborations with Will Oldham and others. She’s now returning to the dancefloor for an upbeat track by pop production outfit Shibashi, entitled Open Your Eyes, released on 8 October.

To celebrate her return, she’s taking your questions on any aspect of her life and career. Please post them in the comments section below before 4pm on Tuesday 5 October, and she’ll answer as many as possible. We will publish her answers on Friday 8 October.

• This article was corrected on 1 October 2021. The album is out on 8 October, not 4 October as previously stated.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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