Mavis Staples & the Blind Boys of Alabama

At the beginning of her eighth decade of singing truth, Mavis Staples has delivered If All I Was Was Black (ANTI- Records), ten songs about America today, where the present is filled with ghosts of the past. "Nothing has changed," Mavis said in early August, just days before the world watched neo-Nazis march with swastika flags in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a young woman was murdered. "We are still in it." If All I Was Was Black represents Mavis' third collaboration with songwriter and producer (and Wilco frontman) Jeff Tweedy. Their first partnership in 2010, You Are Not Alone, won a Grammy Award for Best Americana album. Their second effort together, One True Vine, was a Grammy nominee. But If All I Was Was Black marks the first time Tweedy has composed an entire album of original songs for Mavis' legendary voice and a nation she's uniquely poised to address.

Hailed as "gospel titans" by Rolling Stone, the Blind Boys first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show. They released their debut single, "I Can See Everybody's Mother But Mine," on the iconic Veejay label in 1948, launching a 70-year recording career that would see them rack up five GRAMMY Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world's most prestigious stages. It would be difficult to overstate the Blind Boys' influence on their contemporaries and the generations that came after. The New York Times said that they "came to epitomize what is known as jubilee singing, a livelier breed of gospel music," adding that "they made it zestier still by adding jazz and blues idioms and turning up the volume, creating a sound...like the rock 'n' roll that grew out of it." TIME Magazine raved that "they're always hunting for -- and finding -- the perfect note or harmony that lifts an old tune into the sublime," while The Washington Post praised their "soul-stirring harmonies" and "range of cross-genre collaborations," and The New Yorker simply called them "legendary."

  • 700 E. Main St.
  • Charlottesville, VA 22902

Region: Downtown Mall Area

Located on the east end of the historic downtown mall, the Charlottesville Pavilion is the city’s premier outdoor venue for live performance. Open since July of 2005, it features premium seating, a spacious lawn, and a professional stage house; all within easy walking distance of Downtown Charlottesville’s many restaurants and other attractions.... more