Jessica Edwards (2015)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Mavis Staples has one of the most distinctive voices in modern music. Yet she remains relatively unknown, as she has struggled to establish herself as a solo artist outside the family band, the Staple Singers. Debut feature documentarist Jessica Edwards comes close to identifying the reason why, as she charts Mavis's devotion to Roebuck "Pops" Staples, who turned a Chicago gospel combo into vocal supporters of the Civil Rights movement before it found its R&B mojo on the Stax label in the early 1970s. Indeed, following her father's death in 2000, Mavis was more interested in releasing an album of his last recordings than she was in working on her own material. Edwards makes telling use of archive footage to extoll the virtues of "message songs" such as Why (Am I Treated So Bad) and chart-topping hits such as I'll Take You There and Let's Do It Again. Frustratingly, she fails to capture the seventysomething's potency during the flatly filmed live interludes, but goes some way to atoning with the visit to Levon Helm, the ailing drummer of The Band, and the revelation about Bob Dylan's marriage proposal.


Documentary exploring the life and career of soul singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, featuring interviews with Bob Dylan, Prince, Chuck D and Bonnie Raitt.

Cast & Crew

Director Jessica Edwards

Other Information

Language: EnglishColour