09-11-2017

New Music: Mavis Staples Takes on Trump’s America With ‘If All I Was Was Black’

Mavis Staples, singer and civil right activist, performs at the American Visionary: John F. Kennedy's Life and Times debut gala at Smithsonian American Art Museum on May 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Mavis Staples, singer and civil right activist, performs at the American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times debut gala at Smithsonian American Art Museum on May 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

*Music legend Mavis Staples tackles the country’s alarming social climate under Donald Trump with her new album, “If All I Was Was Black,” due Nov. 17.

“We’re not loving one another the way we should,” she says in a press release announcing the album. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.”


The album marks her third collaboration with songwriter-producer and Wilco founder Jeff Tweedy. The 10 tracks are “about contemporary America today, a present day filled with ghosts of the past,” the release says.

“Nothing has changed,” Staples says. “We are still in it.”


The lyrics reflect those sentiments, according to Variety. “I have a mind to bury them whole, when they go low,” she sings on “We Go High,” a nod to Michelle Obama’s famous advice to haters. “Try Harder” opens with the words, “There’s evil in the world, and there’s evil in me,” while “Who Told You That” contains the verse, “They lie, and they show no shame.”

To promote the album, Staples will join her longtime friend Bob Dylan for a series of North American dates beginning in October.

Listen to the album’s title track, which features lyrics written by Staples and music by Tweedy, below:


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  1. Legendary soul singer Mavis Staples addresses the country's social climate head-on with her this album.
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