“I’ll Take You There” – Celebrating 75 Years Of Mavis Staples @ The Auditorium Theatre, 11/19

Gearing up backstage for what she endearingly referred to as her “Sweet 16” on Wednesday evening, Mavis Staples told a local news reporter, “I could have been president if I wanted!” And isn’t that the truth? As a member of one of the most influential R&B/gospel groups in history—the Staple Singers—an unwavering fixture in the civil rights movement, a musical icon across genres, and today, a universally adored 75-year-old vocal powerhouse, there really seems to be no limit to the reach (and lovability) of Ms. Mavis Staples.

And “Celebrating 75 Years” of the woman in question proved that to no end. With a little help from about 20 of her friends ranging from classic rock legends like Gregg Allman to blues icons like Taj Mahal and Otis Clay to younger Mavis mates, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Regine Chassagne (who’s funky take on Talking Heads’ “Slippery People”—performed with Mavis—was a sure highlight of the night), and more, she proved that age truly is just a number, especially with her howling solo rendition of “I’ll Take You There.” Other highlights included Staples’ performance with her adopted Tweedy family: her “producer,” Jeff and “grandson,” Spencer, as the trio delicately gifted the audience with “You’ Are Not Alone”, the title track from Staples’ 13th studio album.

And what would this special concert event have been without the whole group joining for a heart-swelling rendition of The Bands’ “The Weight”—a Mavis staple (pun completely intended)? It was a magical night that left everyone in attendance hoping Staples will stick to her word when she said, “See you again in five years!” as she tearfully accepted the audience and cast’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Check out the full setlist here:

1 You’re Driving Me (to the Arms of a Stranger) – Joan Osborne
2 Heavy Makes you Happy – Keb Mo
3 I Ain’t Raisin’ No Sand – Otis Clay
4 Woke Up this Morning (With My Mind on Jesus) – Buddy Miller
5 Waiting for My Child To Come Home – Patty Griffin
6 Far Celestial Shore – Emmylou Harris
7 Freedom Highway – Michael McDonald
8 People Get Ready – Glen Hansard
9 Respect Yourself – Aaron Neville with Mavis Staples

Second set
10 Hope in a Hopeless World – Widespread Panic
11 For What It’s Worth – Widespread Panic
12 If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) – Ryan Bingham
13 Grandma’s Hands – Grace Potter
14 A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bingham, Potter, Griffin, Harris
15 Eyes on the Prize – Eric Church
16 Wade in the Water – Taj Mahal
17 Have a Little Faith – Gregg Allman
18 Turn Me Around – Bonnie Raitt with Mavis Staples
19 Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Raitt, Staples, Mahal, Allman, Neville
20 Slippery People – Win Butler & Regine Chassagne (Arcade Fire) with Staples
21 You’re Not Alone – Jeff and Spencer Tweedy with Staples
22 I’ll Take You There – Mavis Staples


23 The Weight – Mavis Staples and the entire cast