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Mavis Staples at Santa Monica Pier's Twilight Concert 8/18/16. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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If you ever doubt the adage “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number”, I’ll refer you to Exhibit “A”: Mavis Staples. At 77 years old, I can only hope that I’m as spry as this glorious woman.

Mavis has led a full life. She was the lead singer for the chart-topping, gospel-turned-soul The Staples Singers. She marched “The March” with Martin Luther King as her family became the musical voices of the Civil Rights Movement. She was courted by Bob Dylan. She was awarded with a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Americana Album. Now she was here. On the Santa Monica Pier. To share her joy with the masses.

Mavis’ smile beamed as she took the stage and told the audience that it had been over 10 years since she last played the Santa Monica Pier. The youthful, mischeivous look in her eye  was a sure sign that she was ready to give us all that she had; and give it to us she did.

Mavis Staples at Santa Monica Pier's Twilight Concert 8/18/16. Setlist.With her inimitable, husky voice in terrific form this evening, Mavis performed a set that spanned her storied career [Note: The setlist to the right is the setlist that was typed and taped to the floor that evening. The song selection was changed during the performance (i.e. “The Weight” was performed during the middle of the set, and “Let’s Do It Again” was performed as the encore)]. From songs off her latest album (“Love and Trust” written by Ben Harper) and to songs sung during the Civil Rights Movement (“Freedom Highway”), it was an evening of revival and renaissance; rapture and revelry. She added her own personal flare to various covers (to hear her sing “The Weight” was a dream come true), and she caught me by surprise with the performance of the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People”.

Throughout her set, Mavis reminded the audience of her connection to history:

“I was there; I’m a witness,” Mavis proclaimed about her time during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I’m going to take it back,” Mavis stated. Staring into the audience, she points to someone up front, “I know you weren’t born,” she said with a sly smile.

Certainly, the evening’s focus was Ms. Staples. But I would be remis to neglect mentioning the band’s superb playing. Midway during the set, Ms. Staples left the stage for a brief respite. During the five minutes that she was off stage, her band jammed a funky blues riff. The dynamics of that session was amazing. The decrescendo to a barely audible hush was mesmerizing, and then they way the band crescendoed back into a frenzied jam … that got my adrenaline pumping.

Her spirit was uncontainable this evening. Ever the fighter, she would riff that she was “a soldier” still fighting the good fight, encouraging the audience to join her on her mission to keep changing the world. It was inspirational to say the least. When she concluded her set with “I’ll Take You There” she had the whole audience singing the chorus back to her, and when she came back on stage for her encore and performed “Let’s Do It Again” I could only wish that I had girlfriend to slow jam with at that moment.

Before she left stage, she promised the audience that she’ll be back. I certainly hope so, Ms. Staples, cause I definitely want to do it again.

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