Presumably you know the great Mavis Staples from her seminal R&B/soul/gospel career and her work in the legendary Staples Singers (“I’ll Take You There” is a great place to start, and you’ve probably heard it). If you don’t know the great Mavis Staples, director Jessica Edwards is here to help. Staples has found some contemporary appreciation in recent years due to collaborations with Prince and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (who also helped her complete Don’t Lose This, an unfinished album from her father, Pops Staples), but her legend gets its due in “Mavis!,” a documentary dedicated to her seminal career, her critical civil rights activism in the 1950s and 60s, and leads up all the way to her 2013 album One True Vine (also produced by Tweedy).
The talking head testimonials in the doc feature a powerhouse group of contributors including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Chuck D and many more. Here’s the official synopsis: MAVIS! is the first documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. Beginning in the gospel church, Mavis’ music spans from the freedom songs of the ‘60s and hits like “I’ll Take You There” to funked-up collaborations with Prince and her recent albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Over the course of her unrivaled career, Mavis has stayed true to her roots, kept her family close and reinvented herself as a solo artist at the age of 65. With dynamic live performances, rarely-seen archival footage and conversations with musical legends Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Chuck D and more, MAVIS! reveals the struggles and successes of her journey and why her message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.
Check out the exclusive poster below — it’s designed by Joe Marianek and Dinah Fried at Small Stuff, out of Brooklyn— watch the trailer for the film as well. “Mavis!” will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival which runs from March 13-21.