Greg Kot’s latest book: “I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway”
Out Jan. 21, 2014 on Scribner
“I’ll Take You There” tells the story of Mavis Staples — lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era. She and her family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song. Honing her prodigious talent on the Southern gospel circuit of the 1950s, Mavis and the Staple Singers went on to sell more than 30 million records with hits such as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There.” Their message-oriented soul music became a sound track to the civil rights movement and an inspiration to their friend Martin Luther King Jr. Now Mavis is in the midst of a career renaissance, as a solo artist who has recorded acclaimed albums with Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy. Her story is told with unparalleled access to family members and their archives, as well as interviews with Prince, Bonnie Raitt, David Byrne, Marty Stuart, Steve Cropper, Bobby Womack, Mick Jagger and other key figures.
Greg Kot book appearances:
Jan. 24, 7 p.m. at Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.
Jan. 27, 7 p.m. at Boswell Books in Milwaukee
Jan. 31, 7 p.m. the Book Stall in Winnetka, Ill.
Feb. 3, 7 p.m. at St. Louis County Library in St. Louis, Mo.
Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. at City Lit Books in Chicago
“Greg Kot manages to get it all down neatly, focusing on the young woman with the baritone voice who, with Pops Staples' reverb-y guitar, trademarks this amazing act. It's all here: Roebuck, one of 14 children (yes, he had a brother named Sears), discovering the guitar on Mississippi's Dockery plantation and hanging out with blues star Charley Patton, then moving to Chicago to get work, sending for his wife Oceola and the kids, building a modest family band into a gospel powerhouse that became a folk act … the glimpse we get into the world of gospel is unparalleled.”
-- Ed Ward, Austin Chronicle
“[I’ll Take You There] takes us deep into the golden age of Mavis and her marvelously talented group.”
“A biography that will send readers back to the music of Mavis and the Staple Singers with deepened appreciation and a renewed spirit of discovery…. Through it all, the ebullience of Mavis Staples and her music shine through.”
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Kot chronicles the amazing story of a family that went from a hardscrabble life in Mississippi to Chicago’s church circuit to worldwide fame, merging the genres of roots, gospel, and soul…. This is a moving tribute to a very talented family and one gracious woman, in particular.”
-- Booklist (starred review)
“Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers are a mighty river running through more than a half-century of song, connecting Sam Cooke to Prince and Bob Dylan to Wilco. Thoroughly researched and elegantly told, I’ll Take You There offers powerful and inspiring insight into not only American music, but American history.”
-- Alan Light, author and critic