Mavis Staples Teams With Jeff Tweedy for Unflinching New Album, If All I Was Was Black

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Mavis Staples Teams With Jeff Tweedy for Unflinching New Album, <i>If All I Was Was Black</i>

Gospel soul dynamo Mavis Staples is rejoining forces with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco for a vital new album. If All I Was Was Black is due out Nov. 17 on ANTI- Records, and its uplifting title track is out now. A press release describes the album as “ten songs about contemporary America today, a present day filled with ghosts of the past.”

If All I Was Was Black will be Staples’ third collaboration with Tweedy. Their 2010 album You Are Not Alone took home a Grammy for Best Americana Album, and their second effort One True Vine earned a nomination of its own. If All I Was Was Black, however, marks the first time Tweedy has written an entire set of original songs for Staples—songs that take an unflinching look at the dire state of our divided nation.

“Nothing has changed,” Staples said in August, just days before white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va., where they murdered Heather Heyer. “We are still in it.”

If All I Was Was Black finds Staples and Tweedy united in addressing the disconnect in our country. “We’re not loving one another the way we should,” said Staples. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.” Said Tweedy, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

Even in its unsparing examination of a country in turmoil, If All I Was Was Black rises above despair, ultimately striking a note of hope. Per a press release:

“The songs move less like a hammer and more like the tide, with Mavis countering the anger with an eye toward the work that is required to bring change. She is singing the world as it is, but also a way forward. Mavis is sure that the answer is to lift each other up. She’s not embracing the anxious hesitation of respectability politics but the possibilities of love.”

Staples has also announced that she will join none other than Bob Dylan for a series of North American tour dates, running from mid-October through mid-November.

Listen to “If All I Was Was Black” below, and further down, find an interview with Staples circa 2011, a 1994 performance from the Paste Cloud, her new album’s tracklist and artwork, and her tour dates with Dylan.

If All I Was Was Black Tracklist:
01. Little Bit
02. If All I Was Was Black
03. Who Told You That
04. Ain’t No Doubt About It (feat. Jeff Tweedy)
05. Peaceful Dream
06. No Time For Crying
07. Build A Bridge
08. We Go High
09. Try Harder
10. All Over Again

If All I Was Was Black Album Art:

If All I Was Was Black Art.jpg

Mavis Staples Tour Dates with Bob Dylan:

October
17 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Eccles Theater
18 – Salt Lake City, Utah @ Eccles Theater
21 – Denver, Colo. @ 1st Bank Center
23 – Omaha, Neb. @ Century Link Center
24 – Ames, Iowa @ Stephens Auditorium
25 – St Paul, Minn. @ Xcel Energy Center
27 – Chicago, Ill. @ Wintrust Arena
28 – Grand Rapids, Mich. @ Van Andel Arena
29 – Bloomington, Ind. @ IU Auditorium

November
01 – Detroit, Mich. @ Fox Theater
03 – Akron, Ohio @ EJ Thomas Hall
05 – Columbus, Ohio @ Palace Theater
06 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Peterson Events Center
08 – Uniondale, N.Y. @ Nassau Coliseum
10 – Richmond, Va. @ Coliseum
11 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Tower Theatre
12 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Tower Theatre
14 – Washington, D.C. @ The Anthem
16 – Boston, Mass. @ Agannis Arena

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