New Music Friday: We Get By by Mavis Staples featuring Ben Harper

Like last Friday, I have another concert from Thursday night to write about, but I can’t really fudge this week and combine my posts because The Avett Brothers don’t really have any new music out right now. So stay tuned for my post on that concert. For now let’s talk about the inimitable Mavis Staples’ new album, We Get By, which is out today.

Mavis Staples makes me so happy. She is just pure joy despite having lived her life fighting for change through her music. She grew up singing with her family as part of The Staple Singers, one of the iconic groups of the Civil Rights movement. She is turning 80 years old this year and is still going full force. She has this new album out and is still touring like crazy. The Newport Festival Foundation held 3 recent concerts in New York, Nashville, and L.A. with star studded line-ups to celebrate her. I’m so bummed I wasn’t able to get to any of them. There’s just no way she’s not coming to the Newport Folk Festival this year even if she’s not officially announced. I said the same thing last year when the closing set of the weekend was themed around civil rights music, and I was totally right so I’m holding out hope for this year too.

This new album I think was probably a little sad for her because it’s really the first one in forever where she’s singing without any other family members. She obviously sang for a very long time with the Staples Singers. I just listened to a podcast recently where she was talking about being a solo singer and thinking her voice didn’t sound right without any other Staples singing with her so she recruited her sister Yvonne to come sing back-up for her. They did that for a long time, but Yvonne past away last year. Now Mavis is the last one standing aside from I think one brother who if I recall isn’t in good shape.

I’m highlighting the title song “We Get By” for a couple of reasons. One because I really like it. Two because it features Ben Harper who produced the album, and three because the beginning of this video gives you a little glimpse of the joy that Mavis Staples lives out.

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