Mavis Staples Previews New Album We Get By with Rousing Anthem "Change"

The forthcoming record was written and produced by Grammy winner Ben Harper

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Mavis Staples Previews New Album <i>We Get By</i> with Rousing Anthem "Change"

Mavis Staples, gospel singer and a towering figure in music history (as well as one of the 20 best acts we saw at SXSW this year), has announced her 12th studio album We Get By with the release of its opening track “Change.” Backed by steady, rollicking blues guitar, the near-octogenarian’s rich voice is full of hope and perseverance as she sings, “What good is freedom / if we haven’t learned to be free.” “Change” feels like an all-too necessary, toe-tapping anthem for the United States in 2019. The Blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee said of the lead single in a statement, “We truly need to make a change if we want this world to be better.”

The forthcoming record, out May 10 via Anti-, and written and produced by Grammy winner Ben Harper, is composed of 11 tracks that Staples says “[deliver] such a strong message.” This message is visualized in the cover art (seen further down), which features the photo “Outside Looking In” by the late photographer, author, musician and director Gordon Parks. The image comes from his Life-published photo essay “The Restraints: Open and Hidden,” focusing on the impact of segregation in the U.S. While some claim that the days of racial segregation are long-gone, economic disparity and discrimination show how racism continues to permeate our country.

Staples’ use of Parks’ photography for her album not only helps to deepen her message, but is also a nice tip of the hat considering that she was the 2017 recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Award. The foundation was set up in the wake of his 2006 death, and the award is given to those who carry on Parks’ mission to inspire future generations.

The artist and civil rights activist is hitting the road soon in celebration of the record, and also has a trio of special shows set up to mark her 80th birthday. The three performances at New York City’s Apollo Theater, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and Los Angeles’s Theatre at Ace Hotel have been dubbed “Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of Mavis Staples.” Staples will be joined onstage by special guests for what’s sure to be an unforgettable series of shows. “I just wanted the world to know that I made it to 80!” she said of the performances. “I am letting my fans know that I’m over the hill but now I’m going over the mountain.”

Listen to “Change” and watch a Paste interview with Staples from Bonnaroo 2011 below. Further down, check out the album art and her forthcoming tour dates, and maybe just fan-girl a bit more with Paste’s SXSW love letter to Staples here.

We Get By Album Art:


Mavis Staples Tour Dates:

22 – Jackson, Miss. @ Thalia Mara Hall
29 – Albuquerque, N.M. @ Isleta Resort & Casino

13 – Decatur, Ga. @ Amplify Decatur Music Festival
14 – Baton Rouge, La. @ Baton Rouge Blues Festival
18 – Byron Bay, Australia @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
20 – Byron Bay, Australia @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
21 – Byron Bay, Australia @ Byron Bay Bluesfest
23 – Auckland, New Zealand @ The Civic w/ Tami Neilson

02 – New Orleans, La. @ New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
09 – New York, N.Y. @ Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of Mavis Staples
15 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of Mavis Staples
22 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of Mavis Staples
31 – Ogden, Utah @ Ogden Music Festival

09 – Nelsonville, Ohio @ Nelsonville Music Festival 2019
23 – Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia Theatre
25 – Norrmalm, Sweden @ Nalen
26 – 6/30 – Worthy Farm, U.K. @ Glastonbury Festival 2019
27 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Theater Carré
28 – Antwerpen, Belgium @ Open-Air Theatre

02 – Bath, U.K. @ The Forum
04 – London, U.K. @ Roundhouse
06 – Lyon, France @ Theatres Romaines De Fourviere
16 – Morrison, Colo. @ Red Rocks w/ Norah Jones
17 – Aspen, Colo. @ Belly Up Aspen
19 – Chicago, Ill. @ Pitchfork Music Festival
31 – Cape May, N.J. @ Cape May Convention Hall

01 – Vienna, Va. @ Filene Center at Wolf Trap w/ Lyle Lovett
03 – Lagrange, Ga. @ Sweetland Amphitheatre at Boyd Park

06 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Mann Center for the Performing Arts w/ Brandi Carlile
21 – North Adams, Mass. @ FreshGrass Festival

05 – Florence, Ala. @ Shoals Fest