I mentioned Pops Staples in my last post. I discovered The Staples Singers when I bought a cheap compilation album of Gospel Greats. The album cover was a roulette wheel and boasted a rare recording by Aretha Franklin. The quality of the recording was what had made it rare, I think. Nevertheless, there were treasures on this cheap CD. The song that I kept playing over and over was “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by The Staples Singers. Pops Staples’s haunting tremolo and his daughter Mavis’s powerful and rich gospel voice kept this song on repeat. Next time I went to the Record Store (and that is what we did back then), I looked for the The Staple Singers and found Freedom Highway with its awesome cover of “For What Its Worth”. (As long as you can keep The Muppets‘ version out of your head. Posting a link to it won’t help.)
As I googled Pops for a web-link, I was delighted to discover he had released a new album in February called Don’t Lose This. A surprise since he died 15 years ago.
Here is the story of the album as described on popstaples.com:
In 1999, Roebuck “Pops” Staples recorded a final session, capping an illustrious career as leader and patriarch of the Staple Singers. Unfinished at the time of his passing in 2000, the tapes went to his daughter, Mavis, who then waited for the right opportunity to finish the recording in the spirit Pops intended.
When she began her series of remarkable collaborations with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, starting with 2010’s You Are Not Alone and continuing with 2013’s One True Vine, Mavis knew she had found the person to work on her father’s record.
Don’t Lose This will be realeased by Wilco’s dBpm Records and ANTI- RECORDS and features updated production by Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy.
It was meant to be our last work, but my sisters and I decided to let Pops sing, to let him have this one. … One day, Pops told me, ‘Mavis, bring that record up here, I want to hear it.’ I brought it up to the bedroom and he listened. When it was over, Pops told me, ‘Mavis, don’t lose this here.’ I said, ‘OK, Pops, I won’t lose it.’ And he just smiled. It was a moment I’ll never forget. He had this glow after listening to it; he loved it. So I kept it.
I always said I was going to get it out there because Pops told me not to lose it. When he said, ‘Don’t lose this,’ that meant: ‘Let it be heard.’