The life, music and passionate commitment of the irresistible Mavis Staples are lovingly chronicled in this spirited doco – with help from fans Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Chuck D, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Prince.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
“Gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples shines in a film that’s rich with six decades of music and song. Lead singer of The Staple Singers – the acclaimed ‘first family of song’ founded by Mavis’s father Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples – she fused gospel, soul, folk and rock to transcend racism and unite people through music. Special appearances by Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Chuck D and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, among others, testify to her profound influence on American music.
But it is Staples herself who is the shining star of Mavis! A consummate storyteller, she reveals intimate tales of her life onstage and off – from shout-outs on the Southern gospel circuit in the 50s, freedom songs inspired by Martin Luther King Jr in the 60s, to chart-busting hits in the 70s and 80s and her recent album One True Vine. The film glows with the power and spiritual grace of her unforgettable voice.” — Lynne Fernie, Hot Docs
“All-around living legend Mavis Staples is celebrated with the infectiously joyful enthusiasm of a passionately devoted fan in Mavis!, a spirited and captivating bio-doc that richly deserves the exclamation point in its title. Director Jessica Edwards adroitly entwines archival material, newly filmed interviews and live performances to create a cinematic portrait quite capable of converting the uninitiated into acolytes, and elevating casual interest to flood-tide levels of respect and affection.” — Joe Leydon, Variety