The Magic of Mavis


“It’s good to be back home, Cleveland, Ohio,” declared Mavis Staples as she took the stage at Music Box Supper Club last Thursday. “We don’t wait to be invited, we just come up on over.”

Welcome home, Mavis, said the voice in my head.

Staples then opened the show with “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me),” and it was clear the crowd was all-in. And ready to go wherever she and her six-piece backing ensemble would dare to take us. “We’ve come to bring you joy, inspiration, and positive vibration,” she promised. A fitting segue into a set that continued with rousing covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and Talking Heads’ “Slippery People.”

With the band still playing behind her, Staples then shared a little of her family’s history, notably the Staple Singers Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pops had fallen ill and was essentially bedridden, but when he heard the announcement of their induction, he said with a whisper, ‘Get my tuxedo out of the closet. I’m going to that one.’

“And he did,” Mavis said with a twinkle.

The lump in my throat escaped as tears when I heard the first notes of “Like the Things,” which set the table nicely for the follow up “Respect Yourself.”

The close of her musical sermon had arrived, and it began with an inquiry:

“Is everybody ready?”

<crowd response>

“Hold up.

Wait a minute, Cleveland.

That wasn’t everybody,” she mused.

And then, with all the fire and brimstone she could muster…

“I said: Is everybody ready?”

To thunderous applause, Mavis made good on her “I’ll Take You There” promise. Words can’t describe what happened in that room next, but it sure was a religious experience for me.

God bless you, Mavis Staples. You did take me there. And I’m a changed and eternally grateful person for it.

Please come home again soon…

Until next time, be kind to yourself. And each other.


Note: All opinions expressed here are my own. I have not received any compensation for writing this post.

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