Everyone loves a good comeback story – and this one rocks.
The Staples Jr. Singers were a small-town gospel act in the 1970s, a teen-aged family band: Annie, A.R.C., and Edward Brown from Aberdeen, Mississippi.
They named themselves in tribute to Mavis Staples, according to Annie Caldwell (then Annie Brown). She was 14 in 1975 when the group released their album, When Do We Get Paid.
“We were so strange and we were so young,” says Edward.
They sold the album from their van at gigs until, finally, all 500 copies were gone. Years went by, life happened and the members of the group grew older, worked jobs, had families but continued to sing and write songs.
Flash to May 2022, and that 1975 funky, gospel album is (miraculously) reissued by David Byrne’s world music record label, Luaka Bop.
Overnight, the Staples – now the Browns and Caldwells – have become concert darlings in Europe. Their Summer 2023 tour includes Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland (sold out) and Slovenia.
The group will appear on the season finale of Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, Thursday, April 27 at 6 pm at the Powerhouse Arts Center. Admission is free. Guests also include author Tom Piazza (The Auburn Conference) and percussionist/fife player, Sharde Thomas.
Jim Dees is the host with Paul Tate and the Yalobushwhacker Big Band with the Thacker Horns and vocalist Mary Frances Massey.
The Powerhouse is located at 413 S. 14th St. in Oxford.
Watch the Staples Jr. Singers rock the house: Staples Jr. Singers Live at The Paris Review
For the record (no pun), how did When Do We Get Paid go from antique Aberdeen artifact to global hipster jam?
Luaka Bop label co-owner Yale Evelev explained to the London Guardian, “Greg Belson, a British record collector, had been gathering rare gospel 45s for our The Time for Peace Is Now compilation. Lots of the artists only cut 45s. When Greg bought a copy of a full LP, When Do We Get Paid, from another collector, and sent us the files, everything came together.
“Tracking the group down, however, proved harder.”
“Tracking the Browns involved some sleuthing and it was our graphic designer who worked out that Annie Brown was now Annie Caldwell. There are seven Annie Caldwells in Mississippi and I had called six and got no response. I called the seventh and was about to leave a message when Annie picked up.”
“The label brought the trio to New York to perform,” Belson recalls. “As soon as Edward opened his mouth, you knew the Staples Jr. Singers had lost none of their power.”
For their Thacker appearance, a spokesperson for the group said they are excited and ready.
“They get a little churchy sometimes,” the spokeswoman warned, “and like to come down off the stage and dance with the audience. Will that be OK?”
Yes, indeed, we told her. Let all heaven break loose. We’re ready to testify to the groove!
Thursday, April 27 at 6 pm – Season finale! FREE Admission.
Venue: Powerhouse Arts Center – 413 S 14th St, Oxford, MS 38655 (across from Newks)
Doors: 5:30 pm – Refreshments – Show: 6 pm – Come early and bring your party posse! Plenty of seating.
Admission: FREE! Public invited!
After Party Thursday, April 27 – Come to Thacker – stay to eat!
A Taste of the Delta! – Food, music, art and Cathead cocktails!
7 pm (immediately following Thacker show)
Admission: $20 (Add $5.00 donation to benefit Thacker and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council).
Advance tix: Delta Rising – April 27th
Food: Soul chef Michael Banks and BBQ pitmaster James Butler
Cuisine and cocktails: Georgia Abraham
Artwork: Bill Abel
Music: Blue Mother Tupelo, Sharde Thomas, John Mohead
Eat, drink and be Thacker!